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Staff grievances surge at Ministry of Justice

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(12 December 2022)

The number of grievances raised by Ministry of Justice staff has shot up after falling during the pandemic, government figures reveal.

According to data released last week, 1,078 staff raised grievances in the Ministry of Justice during the 2021/22 financial year – up from 839 in 2020/21. Justice minister Mike Freer MP published the data in response to a written parliamentary question from shadow justice secretary Steve Reed.

The data covers staff in the MoJ’s headquarters, HM Courts & Tribunals staff, HM Prison and Probation Service, Legal Aid Agency, Office of the Public Guardian and Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

The number of staff raising grievances in 2021/22 represents 1.25% of the headcount.

Freer said not all grievances were upheld – the figures represent the number of staff raising grievances regardless of the eventual outcome. Multiple grievances raised by an individual staff member are counted as one.

An MoJ spokesperson said: ‘There are more than 11,000 extra MoJ staff across our courts, prisons and probation offices and HQ compared to 2020 so these figures have naturally increased. The pandemic has also taken its toll on our staff’s mental health which is why we’ve responded by training 2,400 employees to support them. There is zero tolerance for bullying across the civil service.’

The department was unable to break down the total grievance figure by department. However, the department said headcount has increased by 11,330, including MoJ HQ by 1,580, since 2020, ‘which increases the likelihood of a rise in mental health issues being reported’.

The department added that it employs around 77,000 people and staff turnover rates are comparable with other government departments.

The department has around 2,400 ‘mental health allies’, who offer peer-to-peer support to colleagues and line managers, and signpost them to relevant policy, guidance and professional services.

Last month, justice secretary Dominic Raab MP asked the prime minister to launch an independent investigation into his behaviour after complaints were made about his conduct during his time at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and during his first stint as justice secretary. Rishi Sunak agreed to the probe, which is being conducted by Adam Tolley KC. Raab denies any wrongdoing.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)