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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Internal complaint system: FOI release

Published: 7 Nov 2017
Directorate:
People Directorate
Part of:
Public sector

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02235
Date received: 3 October 2017
Date responded: 31 October 2017

Information requested

The following information:

Details of any complaint system about fellow staff members that exists within the Scottish Government, including complaints of verbal and sexual harassment. Information should include details of how employees are able to report harassment, and any figures broken down for the last five years of the numbers of complaints of verbal harassment and sexual harassment.

Response

You have requested information for Scottish Government staff. Our response therefore covers staff who are subject to Scottish Government Main and Scottish Government Marine terms and conditions of employment and Senior Civil Servants in the organisations listed in Annex A.

While our aim is to provide information wherever possible, I am unable to provide all of the information you have requested. An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

There is no place for sexual harassment in the workplace. Any concerns or complaints raised by Scottish Government staff are thoroughly investigated and there are strict disciplinary procedures in place for dealing with misconduct.

Where staff have a concern about their work, their working conditions or a working relationship with a colleague. All Fairness at Work issues should first be raised informally with the line manager. The first step is normally always to try to resolve matters locally and informally. This can mean agreeing to use a mediation service. If attempts have been made to resolve the situation informally but the employee does not feel that their concerns have been properly addressed, they can make a formal complaint in writing. HR would then appoint a Deciding Officer (DO) who will make a decision where the facts are clear. The DO will be supported by an HR Professional Adviser (HRPA) throughout the process before reaching an outcome. The employee has a right to appeal any decision.

The Scottish Government also has clear standards of behaviour which apply to all staff. Where behaviour falls below the standard expected, disciplinary action may be instigated.

In relation to your request for information about the number of complaints of verbal and sexual harassment, our response is set out at Annex B.

ANNEX A

Coverage of our response.

Our response covers staff employed on Scottish Government Main and Scottish Government Marine terms and conditions of employment and Senior Civil Servants in following areas:

  • Scottish Government Core Directorates
  • Accountant in Bankruptcy
  • Disclosure Scotland
  • Education Scotland
  • National Records of Scotland
  • Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
  • Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Scottish Public Pensions Agency
  • Student Awards Agency for Scotland
  • Transport Scotland

Annex B

Our response to your request.

1) The number of complaints of verbal and sexual harassment - 1 January 2013 to 03 October 2017.

Due to small numbers and to avoid possible disclosure of personal data under section 38(1) (b) of FOISA (personal information), it is not possible to break down the number of complaints of verbal and sexual harassment for the last five years, that is from 1 January 2013 to 3 October 2017 (the date of your request) in the manner you have requested.

Sexual Harassment

Between 1 January 2013 and 03 October 2017 there were fewer than 5 complaints of sexual harassment.

Verbal Harassment

In 2013 there were fewer than 5 complaints of verbal harassment.

In 2014 there were fewer than 5 complaints of verbal harassment.

In 2015 there were 7 complaints of verbal harassment.

In 2016 there were fewer than 5 complaints of verbal harassment.

In 2017, until 30 September 2017, there were 7 complaints of verbal harassment.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
7 Nov 2017
Internal complaint system: FOI release