How we do things


You’ll be able to source most of the information that you need around terms and conditions in your How-to Guide. If you’re not sure about anything, you can always check with me. Some of the terms and conditions are actually in your contract of employment, such as the confidentiality clause, but if there is any part of it that you’re not sure about, please feel free to contact myself or HR and we’ll be able to provide you with advice.


Diversity and Inclusion

What do I need to know?

As your employer I take the promotion of diversity and inclusion in my workplace very seriously. I’m committed to ensuring that all my staff are treated equally and diversity is respected in the workplace. I want to create an inclusive workplace where everyone can be their individual selves at work and feel valued for their contributions and ideas.

All my staff need to be aware of my duties under the Equality Act 2010, and comply with these in their behaviours at work and in providing an inclusive service to all service users.

The Parliament has an Equality Framework, which is there to support a culture where diversity and inclusion is integral to every aspect of the working environment.

It comprises a strategy for diversity, and I intend to support this framework in how I develop policies and practices for you during the course of your employment. An environment underpinned by the principles of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect can only exist if we all take responsibility for this, no matter what our role is within the organisation.

I also have a zero tolerance approach to any form of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation (by me, another member of my staff, another Member or their staff, a constituent, a Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) employee or a visitor). If you feel you’ve been subjected to this type of behaviour, you should, in the first instance, raise it informally with me or your line manager. If this is not a suitable option, a formal complaint should be made within my recognised Grievance Procedure.

You can find out more about the Equality Act and your rights on the ACAS website. Please be aware that l look at current ACAS guidance if dealing with any case of discrimination.

Click below - Providing the best service to your disabled constituents

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What are your responsibilities?

Everyone should have the opportunity to develop and be able to reach their full potential and I want to achieve this for all my staff. I seek the support and cooperation of staff to contribute to creating an inclusive workplace, promoting my ideas and to take a proactive role.

SPCB Fair Work Practices


As a Member, I fully support the SPCB’s commitment to fair and inclusive working practices. The SPCB recognise that the delivery of high quality services is critically dependant on Parliamentary staff who are well-rewarded, well-motivated, well-led, have access to opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge and are engaged in decision making. By creating a diverse and inclusive working environment, this helps maximise each persons’ contribution and productivity and enables them to recruit from a wider diverse talent pool. These factors are important for SPCB workforce recruitment and retention, and thus continuity of service delivery. The SPCB has adopted inclusive work practices, which include:

  • Clear leadership commitment to diversity and inclusion and mainstreamed into the way they do their business; how they make decisions at all levels; and providing the right infrastructure to allow individuals to harness their individual talent and capabilities;

  • A fair and equal pay policy, that includes conducting regular equal pay audits and a commitment to supporting the Living Wage, including having obtained accreditation by the Living Wage Foundation as a Living Wage Employer;

  • Creating a diverse workforce which reflects the population of Scotland and where they provide opportunities for groups who are at a greater disadvantage including young people into Modern Apprenticeships; the development of women into leadership and engagement with black and minority ethnic (BME) groups;

  • Support for learning and continuing professional development, growing their staff and utilising their talents and resources;

  • Stability of employment and hours of work, and avoiding exploitative employment practices, including no inappropriate use of zero-hours contracts;

  • Flexible working (including practices such as flexi-time, and career breaks) and support for family friendly working and wider work life balance recognising the diversity within family life;

  • Support progressive workforce engagement, including Trade Union recognition and representation.

What can I do to promote diversity and inclusion?

You can:

  • challenge behaviours when they are not inclusive or supportive to you or others and inform me of any behaviour from me or others which you believe is unacceptable;

  • complete the Equality Essentials—an introduction to diversity and inclusion course;

  • ensure your own behaviour is inclusive and respectful of diversity and prevent anyone from feeling victimised because they have raised or challenged a complaint;

  • be aware that we can all be prone to bias, whether that’s conscious or unconscious. If you want to be more mindful of how biases can influence our perceptions and judgement, complete the unconscious bias learning module;

  • be proactive in providing an inclusive service for all service users by making adjustments where necessary and treating everyone with dignity and respect.


Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest

What do I need to know about potential conflicts of interest?

Your duties in relation to potential conflicts of interest are set out in your contract.

You mustn’t do any other paid or unpaid work during your contracted hours of work, or engage in any activity which may be considered in conflict with my position as a Member. A conflict of interest means having a direct or indirect interest in, or benefitting in any way from, an activity that might affect either my interests, the interest of my constituents, or your own judgement whilst acting on my behalf.

For example, a conflict of interest would arise if you were to put yourself forward as a candidate to be an MSP, MP or MEP. It may also arise during the course of any outside duties you do, or when disclosing information which you received in the course of your work.

These are only examples and if you are ever in doubt about these conditions, please speak to me immediately.

What do I need to know about confidentiality?

Confidentiality is extremely important to your work for me. Your confidentiality duties are set out in your contract. It’s essential that you keep confidential all information you’ve access to in the course of your work for me, unless I’ve authorised you to release it. Your duty to maintain confidentiality exists both during your employment and after your employment ends.

This obviously doesn’t apply to information that’s already in the public domain by other means, or to whistleblowing disclosures.

Also, you mustn’t make any detrimental or derogatory statements or comments about me or your work on social media or anywhere else.
If you’re in any doubt about your confidentiality duties, just speak to me.

Am I allowed access to all areas of the Scottish Parliament?

Your security pass will give you access to the areas of the Parliament you need to go to do your job. Your pass is issued subject to your conduct, i.e. that you adhere to the SPCB’s Health and Safety policies and behave honestly, courteously and responsibly, whilst on or near the Parliamentary campus.

If your conduct falls below a standard considered acceptable to the SPCB or should the SPCB have a reasonable belief that your conduct may have been unacceptable, the SPCB reserves the right to withdraw your pass without warning, so you won’t have access to the Parliament.


Drugs and Alcohol

I’m committed to providing a safe, healthy and productive working environment for all of my staff. I have a legitimate concern where substance abuse impairs the conduct, safety and work performance of my staff. For example, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work is a serious disciplinary matter which could amount to gross misconduct.

Be reassured, though, that I’ll support any of my staff who are dealing with substance abuse problems, and it’s easiest for me to do that if you’re open with me.

If you know or suspect that you have a problem, you are encouraged to seek help voluntarily. Your first contact may be your GP, or one of the voluntary services which Human Resources (HR) can provide details of.

If I’m worried that you might have a problem, I’ll meet with you to discuss my concerns and then may refer you to my Occupational Health Adviser for professional advice. Each case will be treated individually to take account of all relevant factors and I’ll take all practical steps to support you in your recovery.

Remember, you have access to the 24 hour confidential telephone
Counselling and Information Service.

You can also arrange free confidential face-to-face counselling to help you deal with work related or personal difficulties that you may be experiencing. You can access this service by calling 0800 032 9849.

If you don’t go to appointments I’ve made with Occupational Health for you, unfortunately I’ll be prevented from obtaining medical advice in order to support you. I’ll then have to make decisions based on the information available at that time.

Can I have a glass of wine at lunchtime and come back to work?

Sorry, but no. If you are found with alcohol, or have been drinking during working hours, it may lead to disciplinary action. I may give approval for alcohol to be consumed at certain social events, for example, to mark a retirement or other celebrations. You’re responsible for ensuring that you are fit to carry out your duties at all times.

Conducting searches

If I’ve reasonable grounds to suspect that you are in possession of illegal drugs, I reserve the right to search you or your work area, including your desk, pedestal, cupboards, locker, bags, and car if it is on my premises. If you don’t consent, this could result in disciplinary action being taken against you, up to and including dismissal.


Where can I smoke?

The only place you can smoke (including smoking e-cigarettes) whilst at the Parliament is the courtyard outside Queensberry House.

Outside business hours (7pm – 7.30am), you can use the designated area at the passholders’ entrance on the Canongate if you are, for example, working or attending a function in the evening or at the weekends, or when the Queensberry House courtyard facility is closed.

Please just be considerate to staff working in rooms close to these designated smoking areas.

If you work in my local office, sorry, but you can’t smoke in any areas within this office.


Acceptable Use of IT Policy

Can I use the phone to make a personal call?

Yes you can, provided that the calls are not excessive in number or length. I know that sometimes you’ll need to make short, important, personal telephone calls using the office network, but make sure you don’t disturb your colleagues.

If you want to use a work mobile phone to make personal calls, you need to clear this with me in advance. If you make personal calls amounting to more than £5 you’ll need to reimburse me for the cost.

I trust you to use social media and the SPCB’s IT systems in a sensible and responsible manner, exercising good judgement at all times.

I follow the principles of the SPCB’s Acceptable Use of IT Policy, but if you’re unsure, just speak to me or HR can give you information.

You should know that the SPCB's IT systems automatically record information on activity and access, and use can be attributed accurately to individual users. In line with relevant legislation and IT security best practices, the SPCB reserves the right to review these records to ensure adherence to its Acceptable Use of IT policy. This means that you mustn’t expect to have total privacy, e.g. in any messages you send or receive or in your use of the internet.

If you’re absent from work, or in the event of an emergency, I may have to check your inbox to ensure that mail items are dealt with in your absence. I won’t check any emails which are clearly personal or private though, unless you say it’s ok.

Top Tips

  • Remember that emails you send can contractually bind me with other parties therefore any advice, opinion, guarantee, representation or other statement you make in an email may be relied upon by third parties against me.

  • You’re responsible for any action carried out under your IT account, so remember to lock your PC when you’re away from your desk and keep your password a secret.

  • Be aware of spam email and viruses. If you’re unsure about an email or an attachment, you should delete it (don’t open it). If you’re unsure about any email, contact the BIT helpdesk on 86100.

  • If you receive anything that’s offended you, please let me know. If the email is from within the Parliament, I may have to raise it with HR or the employing MSP.

  • If you go to a site carrying offensive material by accident, you should immediately close your browser and report the matter to the BIT Helpdesk (86100) as the incident will be registered to ensure no further action is taken.

  • Make sure that the information you disclose on social networking sites does not bring the Parliament or me into disrepute.

  • Just remember if you abuse the IT systems, or think someone else is, I may have to deal with this under my Disciplinary Procedure.

What about Social Media?

You’ll probably want to use social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in your personal time both in and outside work. Just remember that anything you post is public and can be viewed by anyone. I trust you to use good judgement here. Think about what you’re posting on social media and how it reflects on you, me and the Parliament.

Again, just remember to follow the SPCB’s principles when using its IT systems.

Data Protection

Data Protection Policy in Relation to Employee Information

The Data Protection Act 1998 (“the Act”) regulates the way in which certain data about you, both in paper and electronic form, is held and used. As your employer, I recognise the importance of safeguarding your personal privacy when dealing with information about you. The Act requires me to inform you what data I hold on you and the purposes for which this data might be used. Additionally, the Act requires me to process your personal data in accordance with its data protection principles. I follow the principles detailed on ACAS, but if you’re unsure, just speak to me.


Why do I hold data about you?

I collect, maintain and process personal data about all of my employees to enable me to conduct my business, in particular my payroll and personnel functions. I also process personal data to ensure that I comply with legal and tax requirements. I may require to process sensitive personal data about you in relation to your health for the purpose of maintaining sickness information relevant to your employment, for equal opportunities monitoring and for complying with my other legal obligations.

Who might you share my personal data with?

I may disclose your personal data to the third parties who provide me with services such as payroll, HR advice, occupational health advice, insurance services and legal advice. I’ll also disclose your personal data to those who are legally entitled to receive it, for example HMRC and the Health & Safety Executive.

Privacy Notice

This privacy notice explains how the SPCB collects and uses personal information in connection with your employment with your employing MSP.


Public Interest Disclosure Policy (“Whistleblowing”)


  • Don’t disclose to the media or to non-prescribed people, as this will not usually be protected under the Act.  Non-protected disclosures may lead to disciplinary action being taken against you.

  • It should only be in exceptional circumstances that you would need to raise a concern externally.  You should seek expert and independent advice before raising concerns externally so that you can be advised on whether the proposed disclosure may be protected under the Act.  The Public Concern at Work charity offers expert, independent advice.

I’m committed to dealing responsibly, openly and professionally with any genuine concern. I encourage you to discuss your concerns internally wherever possible by reporting any wrongdoing or malpractice within my office which you believe has occurred or is likely to occur. You have my assurance that I’ll not tolerate any detrimental treatment of anyone raising a genuine concern under this policy.

I follow the principles of ACAS in relation to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and you can find a list of the types of things I would want reported to me on ACAS’ website. These include a criminal offence, failure to comply with a legal obligation or a danger to the health and safety of an individual. I’ll also treat a serious breach of conduct (see examples under misconduct and gross misconduct) under my Disciplinary Procedure or a serious breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct or of the Members’ Interests legislation as if it was covered by the Act, if you raise them internally.

If you become aware of any matter you should speak with me as soon as you can so I can investigate it. I’ll tell you who is handling the matter, how you can contact them and whether further information is needed from you. Subject to any legal constraint, I’ll keep you informed of the progress of the investigation and its outcome. The matter will be dealt with promptly and within a reasonable time.

If you believe that you are being victimised by or suffering any detriment from someone from within my office as a result of reporting a concern or assisting me in any investigation, you must inform me immediately.
Keep yourself right. Disciplinary action will be taken against you if you:

  • make disclosures for personal gain;

  • make a non-protected disclosure without exhausting the internal procedure;

  • victimise anyone for raising a concern or making a disclosure under this policy; and/or

  • inappropriately deter anyone from making a legitimate disclosure.
    Such conduct will be treated as gross misconduct and may lead to dismissal.

  • deliberately make false or malicious allegations;


Disciplinary Procedures & Practice

It’s my aim to encourage improvement if your standard of work, conduct and/or attendance is unsatisfactory. This procedure details the action which will be followed if you fall below the standards I expect , with a view to assisting you to improve your attendance, performance or behaviour. You’ll find examples of behaviours which are normally regarded as misconduct and gross misconduct in Annex A and Annex B (PDF 140KB). These procedures comply with the ACAS Code of Practice 1 – Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. I’ll review and monitor my Disciplinary Procedures on an on-going basis, taking into account legislative requirements, recommendations and identified good practice.

These disciplinary procedures don’t form part of your contract and I may amend them at any time.

Informal Stage

I’ll not normally initiate formal stages of the Disciplinary Procedures until I have spoken to you informally to let you know what it is you’re doing or not doing that is causing me concern, counselled and/or coached you on what you must do to improve, and given you the opportunity to make the necessary improvement(s). This informal approach doesn’t constitute disciplinary action.

In cases where more serious misconduct is alleged or your conduct has not improved following attempts to resolve things informally action will be taken in accordance with the paragraphs that follow.

Formal Stages of the Disciplinary Procedure

Stage 1 - Disciplinary Investigation

If I consider that formal action is appropriate, I’ll thoroughly investigate the facts. I’ll investigate (or appoint someone to investigate) the complaint against you as promptly as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

Before the investigation begins, I’ll advise you in writing that your conduct is being investigated and you’ll normally be invited to attend an investigatory interview by the Investigating Officer. You can be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague but not by legal adviser. You should be aware that you may be suspended, normally on full pay, whilst the investigation is carried out.

Following the investigation, I’ll inform you in writing whether I consider that the case needs to progress to a Disciplinary Hearing. If there appears to be grounds for disciplinary action, you’ll be invited to attend a Disciplinary Hearing and will be provided in advance with a written statement setting out the full details of the allegations against you, together with a copy of the investigatory report and any accompanying evidence.

Stage 2 - Disciplinary Hearing 

A Disciplinary Hearing will be set up as soon as reasonably practical, whilst giving you time to prepare your case. At the Hearing, you may make oral and/or written representations and will be entitled to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague but not by a legal adviser.

I, or someone appointed by me, will conduct the Hearing (the Hearing Manager). I’ll normally be accompanied by another person to take a note of the Hearing.

Having heard your representations, the Hearing Manager will adjourn to consider the evidence and to determine whether the disciplinary case has been made and, if so, whether a disciplinary sanction is appropriate. The sanctions which the Hearing Manager has the authority to impose are set out in Annex C. Be aware that you’ll not normally be dismissed for a first offence except in a case of gross misconduct when the sanction will normally be dismissal without notice or compensation in lieu of notice.

When a decision is made, the Hearing Manager will reconvene the Hearing, on the same day if possible, and they’ll inform you of the decision, the reasons for the decision, the sanction where appropriate, and the procedures for lodging an appeal including details of who should receive any appeal.

You’ll receive confirmation of these details in writing too.

Stage 3 - Appeal.

The purpose of an appeal is to look at the decision that has been taken and whether it was reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. If you wish to appeal the outcome of a Disciplinary Hearing, I’ll appoint an Appeal Manager. You must set out the reasons for the appeal in writing and submit it to the Appeal Manager within one week of the date of the written confirmation of the decision.

As soon as possible, you’ll be invited to attend an Appeal Hearing at which you may make oral and/or written representations. You can be accompanied at the Appeal Hearing by a trade union representative or work colleague but not by a legal adviser.

After hearing your representations, the Appeal Manager will adjourn to consider the outcome of the appeal. The Appeal Manager may decide to:

  • uphold the appeal; or

  • dismiss the appeal; and/or

  • uphold the disciplinary sanction; or

  • impose a lesser disciplinary sanction.

When a decision is made, the Appeal Hearing will be reconvened, on the same day if possible, and you’ll be informed of the decision and the reasons for it. You’ll receive confirmation of these details in writing too. Please be aware that the decision of the Appeal Manager is final.

Order of Events

The disciplinary process will usually follow the process outlined above. However, I may change this process at any stage and could miss out a step or steps, where I think the circumstances are serious enough to do this. If I do this, I’ll tell you the reasons why.

Any act of gross misconduct will normally result in your employment being brought to an end. To keep yourself right, make sure you look at the types of thing that would be considered misconduct and gross misconduct (in Annexes A and B).

Suspension from Duty

If an allegation has been made that you’ve committed a disciplinary offence, you may be suspended from work, normally with pay, while the investigation is carried out. A decision to suspend you may be made at any time during disciplinary proceedings. You’ll normally be suspended while allegations of gross misconduct are investigated.

Suspension from work in these circumstances is not a disciplinary sanction and you’ll normally continue to receive full pay and contractual benefits during the period of suspension. In very exceptional circumstances, pay may be withdrawn during a period of suspension.

This may occur, for example, in circumstances outwith my control, for example if you do not keep in touch in the ways agreed while you are suspended, or if you are remanded in custody and therefore unavailable for work. Suspension will only apply for the length of time which is deemed strictly necessary and will be confirmed in writing.

Criminal Proceedings

Disciplinary action may be taken in parallel with criminal proceedings concerning the same circumstances.

Records and monitoring and review

I’ll keep a record of any disciplinary action taken against you in accordance with my Data Protection Policy.


Grievance Procedure

My grievance procedure, set out below, is to provide a means for dealing promptly with any concern which you may have in the course of, and connected with, your employment. It’s best to try and resolve anything as quickly as possible. I will consult the Parliament’s HR Office for advice throughout the process.

The procedure complies with the ACAS Code of Practice 1 - Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It doesn’t form part of your employment contract.

So how do I raise a complaint on an informal basis?

You should aim to raise any concerns or complaints you have about your work initially on an informal basis with me or directly with the individual who has caused you to feel concerned. This may resolve the problem quickly and preserve working relationships.

How do I raise a complaint on a formal basis?

If you think that an informal approach is not appropriate in the circumstances, or if you feel that your attempt to raise the grievance informally has not resolved your concern, you can raise your grievance formally.

If you do, you must set out your grievance to me, as your employer, in writing, making clear the nature of your complaint and detailing any attempts you have made to try to resolve the issue informally. You should also let me know what outcome you wish to be achieved.

So what happens after I’ve raised a formal complaint?

I, or someone appointed by me, will invite you to attend a meeting to discuss the grievance and to try to come to a solution.

This meeting will be held within a reasonable time. However, the meeting may be delayed and/or a second meeting held with you, if I need to carry out an investigation into your complaint in order to make a reasonable response to it. I may arrange for your complaint to be investigated by an independent investigator, for example, if it is in relation to bullying or harassment.

You’ve the right to be accompanied at this meeting by a trade union representative or work colleague but not by a legal adviser. I’ll inform you of my decision verbally and this will be confirmed in writing within a reasonable timescale from the date of us meeting.

I’ll also inform you of your right of appeal if you’re unhappy with the decision.

We recognise that you may need additional support, so remember you can talk to your Trade Union representative if you’re a member, or our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provider. You can contact EAP in confidence on 0800 032 9849 or go to

What if I’m not happy with the decision?

If you don’t think that your grievance has been resolved and you wish to appeal, you should let me know in writing and I’ll nominate an Appeal Manager to consider your appeal.

You should set out the grounds for your appeal in writing and submit it to the Appeal Manager within a reasonable timescale of the date you were notified of the outcome of the formal grievance hearing. Your appeal must cover all of the relevant issues including, if appropriate, the process followed by the manager at the first stage of the procedure.

The Appeal Manager will invite you to attend a meeting to consider the grounds of your appeal, once they have carried out an investigation (if appropriate). Again, you have the right to be accompanied at this meeting by a trade union representative or colleague but not a legal adviser.

Following the appeal meeting, the Appeal Manager will notify you verbally, then in writing, of their decision, which will be final. The grievance procedure is complete at this stage.

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