Wednesday, 30 April 2008

No Dignity at Work: procedures were reasonable under the circumstance

The latest twist in the tale of how the Welsh Assembly Government deals with internal matters takes a turn into the predictable. This post now brings to a conclusion past posts on this blog.

A sexual harassment case investigation has recommended that the Welsh Assembly Government's "Dignity at Work" policy is scrapped.
The inquiry began when a manager was found in county court to have harassed a female colleague, after he had been cleared by an assembly investigation.

It emerged last month that Mr Evans had resigned from his job. The legal review concluded there was no evidence that any assembly government officials tried to cover up the allegations by Mrs Davies.
It also concluded the decision they came to on the basis of evidence was reasonable.
But it recommended the Dignity at Work procedures should be suspended or even scrapped, and disciplinary or grievance procedures employed instead.
Sir Jon Shortridge, the outgoing top civil servant in the assembly and who commissioned the investigation said:

It identifies certain deficiencies in the process we followed but concludes robustly that the conclusions reached through our Dignity at Work procedures were reasonable under the circumstance.

The main conclusion I take from the report is that it is essential for staff working for the assembly government to conduct themselves properly at all times and treat their colleagues appropriately.

This case has shown that where members of staff fall below this standard they create problems for themselves, their colleagues and for the organisation.

Instead of passing the blame solely on to certain undesirable members of staff, Sir Jon, as the outgoing Permanent Secretary responsible for nearly 7000 staff, should accept such responsibility at the top.
What he should be doing, is apologising for having such inefficient procedures, on behalf of his management of the organisation and that of its Human Resources Department. Top-level civil servants need to show a little humility and accept blame, not shirking responsibility when faced with difficult issues. Pretending there is no problem with current policies, or simply leaving it for a successor to deal with does no good in the long run.
It comes to no surprise how little the world changes.


Anonymous 30 April 2008 at 10:40  

excellent post Miss Wagstaff, after all who holds the Civil Service to account, nobody, so they keep on making mistake after mistake and getting away with it, the politicians are not going interfere, this is what you get when people are far to comfortable in their jobs and have no accoutability.

Jones 1 May 2008 at 08:23  

If this procedure isn't fit for purpose it makes you wonder what others don't meet the standard.

Anonymous 1 May 2008 at 12:27  

It amuses me to think of Sir Jon Shortridge as one of the architects of devolution, as described by the media.

Anonymous 26 May 2008 at 14:52  

Top marks to the former Perm Sec for promptly commissioning an independent legal review last January. Decisive action - that’s the way to do it. But hang on a minute. Who was appointed to carry out the 'independent' review ? Could it have been that excellent firm Geldards, to whom the Assembly awarded a whacking great big contract in February ? Surely not ? Perhaps the former Perm Sec could explain....anyone know where he is ?

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