Employment of Members' staff by the House - House of Commons Commission Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  The scale of the proposed transfer of staff to a new employer is significant. (Paragraph 12)

2.  The limit on the staffing of Members' offices from public funds should continue to be a financial one rather than a limit on the number of staff paid for. (Paragraph 20)

3.  It is inescapable that the House's new duties as employer would significantly restrict Members' freedom in some respects. (Paragraph 21)

4.  Our preference if the House is to be the employer of Members' staff is for the employing organisation to be a new statutory body. (Paragraph 28)

5.  It is unavoidable that the House's wishes must prevail if House and Member disagree over whether Members' staff should be dismissed; otherwise the House could not be regarded as the employer. (Paragraph 38)

6.  The House would need to protect itself from the risks which direct employment of Members' staff would impose on it by transferring some of the risk back to Members. (Paragraph 41)

7.  We would favour minimal House involvement in recruitment. (Paragraph 45)

8.  It should be a condition of Staffing Expenditure that Members report in respect of new staff that certain standard recruitment procedures have been followed. (Paragraph 47)

9.  The House could fulfil its health and safety responsibilities for constituency offices by a combination of training and advice, self-certification by Members, a limited audit regime and a reserve power to remedy problems or withdraw staff. Somewhat different methods would be needed where staff work at home; the House would still need to satisfy itself in these cases that work spaces were fit for purpose and safe. (Paragraph 54)

10.  The problem of staff whose Member leaves the House is the most intractable aspect of the proposal that the House employ Members' staff. There is no easy answer to it, and resolving it would undoubtedly be highly expensive. Whether that cost would be worth bearing would depend on whether the benefits were considered to justify the cost. (Paragraph 63)

11.  We envisage Members retaining most of the discretion they currently enjoy over pay and conditions of service, and that any audit would deal only with clear cases of inequality of treatment (with particular attention being paid to the pay and bonuses of family members). However, it would not be consistent with the House's status as employer for it to leave Members all of their current discretion over pay, bonuses and other terms of employment. (Paragraph 72)

12.  The House would need to be able to respond to any complaints about non-compliance with legislation and to require information from Members and their staff. (Paragraph 73)

13.  We consider it important that innovative arrangements such as collective employment should be able to continue, and see no reason why this should not be possible if the House employs Members' staff. (Paragraph 82)

14.  No changes would be needed to the existing arrangements for unpaid interns as a direct result of the House becoming the employer of Members' staff. (Paragraph 84)

15.  We take it as a given that the House would wish to ensure that no current member of staff experienced any deterioration in their existing terms and conditions. (Paragraph 88)

16.  Existing employees of Members should be given the option of being made redundant, with appropriate redundancy pay, when the Member they currently work for leaves the House. (Paragraph 89)

17.  It should be confirmed on any transfer of Members' staff to the House that length and continuity of service are not affected by the transfer. (Paragraph 90)

18.  If the proposal to make the House the employer of Members' staff goes ahead, it should not be implemented until the next general election at the earliest. (Paragraph 91)

19.  The additional costs of the House employing Members' staff directly would be high. (Paragraph 98)

20.  We believe our proposed scheme would be the best way of achieving what the House decided it wanted in April and would be workable, although the problem of what to do with the staff of Members who have left the House remains unresolved. However, we do not commend our scheme to the House, for the following reasons:

it would have heavy costs;

it would secure no clear benefits;

it would place Members' staff in an ambiguous employment relationship; and

it would significantly reduce the flexibility Members currently have to manage their staff. (Paragraph 105)

21.  Our preference would be for the House (or if appropriate the IPSA) instead to give greater support to Members as employers, in the ways described above. (Paragraph 106)

22.  If the proposal that the House should become the employer of Members' staff is to proceed, it will be essential that there is extensive consultation both with Members and with their staff on a specific detailed proposal before it is put to the House. (Paragraph 107)

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 27 October 2009