Scottish Government response to harassment reviews

Scottish Government response to the reports by Laura Dunlop QC, James Hamilton, Independent Adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code, and the Scottish Parliament Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.

Scottish Government responsibilities as an employer

The Scottish Government will make changes to improve its employee processes as a result of the learning from the three reports and our internal lessons. Our implementation plan reflects the duties and obligations of the Scottish Government as an employer.   

This employer responsibility is complicated by the fact that civil servants engage with a number of parties – including Ministers – who are not Scottish Government employees. The Scottish Government as an employer does not have direct authority over Ministers, and neither do Ministers have line management authority over civil servants. Nonetheless, the shared commitment to a productive and respectful working relationship is clearly set out in the Scottish Ministerial Code and Civil Service Code, so there should be no barrier to fulfilling the employer and civil service obligations. Good relationships are important to the smooth and effective running of any government and also in ensuring that the Scottish Government as employer can discharge its duty of care to its staff and act lawfully.

As an employer, the Scottish Government has a responsibility to ensure that it has the appropriate guidance, processes, policies and governance in place to:

  • Meet its legal duties to provide employees with a safe workplace;
  • Protect employees against harassment; and
  • Ensure that employees are able to raise concerns in the context of their employment.

Scottish Government employees have terms and conditions of appointment reflecting this relationship. They have recourse to normal routes for raising and resolving disputes and to challenge their employer, including via the Employment Tribunal.

The Scottish Government’s employer obligations sit within a civil service framework, reflecting the obligations flowing from the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 and the Civil Service Management Code. The Permanent Secretary has delegated responsibility for actions and decisions of the civil service serving the Government of the day, including overall delegated responsibility for discharging the employer duty of care towards staff. In discharging this responsibility, it is important that there is assurance that appropriate policies and procedures are in place and followed.




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