Various types of complaints made by staff to Scottish Government: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

In your request you asked for the following:

  • ‘How many complaints of sexual harassment have been made to the Scots Gov since 2015?
  • How many complaints of bullying have been made to Scots Gov since 2015?
  • How many complaints of inappropriate behaviour have been made to Scots Gov since 2015?
  • How many of the above resulted in disciplinary action’?


In your request, you have asked for information about the Scottish Government and its staff. Our response therefore covers complaints made against or by permanent staff employed in the core directorates within the Scottish Government, please see Annex A.

You have asked for information about complaints of sexual harassment, bullying or inappropriate behaviour during the period 2015-2020. While our aim is to provide information wherever possible, managers in the Scottish Government are encouraged to deal with concerns about any unacceptable behaviour at an early stage and on an informal basis, where it is appropriate to do so. There is no requirement to report informal action to HR and therefore no information is held centrally about cases that have been dealt with informally.

Where cases have been referred to HR for formal action, the figures are as follows:

Sexual Harassment

Some of the information you have requested is already available –see Parliamentary Question S5W-18396 published on Thursday 20 September 2018 and FOI response 202000019799 -

For the period 11 June 2020 (that is the date of the last FOI) to 2 September 2020 (that is the date of your request), there have been no complaints of sexual harassment.


Some of the information you have requested is already available –see FOI response 202000017779 which included information about bullying –

For the period 31 December 2019 (that is the date covered by the last FOI) to 2 September 2020, there have been 5 complaints of bullying.

Inappropriate Behaviour

We have interpreted ‘inappropriate behaviour’ to mean cases where a complaint has been raised about a breach of the SG standards of behaviour (see ANNEX B). These standards cover a wide range of behaviour from inappropriate communication to misuse of office equipment.

Since 2015, there have been 37 complaints of inappropriate behaviour which have been referred to HR for formal action.

Disciplinary Action

There is no place for unacceptable behaviour in the workplace or anywhere else and the Scottish Government has clear standards of behaviour that apply to all staff. We also have robust HR policies in place where behaviour falls below the standard expected.

Any concerns or complaints raised by or about Scottish Government staff are investigated and, where warranted, disciplinary action may be taken. Since 2015, 40 of the complaints referred to above have resulted in disciplinary action.

Annex A
Core Directorates of the Scottish Government:

  • Director-General Constitution and External Affairs
  • Director-General Economy
  • Director-General Education, Communities and Justice
  • Director-General Health and Social Care
  • Director-General Organisational Development and Operations
  • Director-General Scottish Exchequer

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI/202000083344 - Annex B - Standards of Behaviour Policy


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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