MORE than a dozen calls have been made to Holyrood’s sexual harassment helpline in the last six months.
However, the Scottish Parliament say they do not know what the 14 calls have been about, how many have progressed to official complaints or whether any investigations have taken place as a result.
An external company has been hired to handle the hotline, which parliament officials say is not a method of reporting a complaint but rather a “confidential listening service” for staff.
Run by occupational health service OH Assist, advisers are supposed to explain to callers their options if they want to take their complaint further while also supporting them.
The Scottish Parliament said it only “receives confirmation of the number of calls made to the helpline” and has no other information about the calls.
Lawyers and politicians have raised concerns about the lack of information being recorded, saying that if a culture of harassment is to be truly addressed at Holyrood, bosses should know what is being reported. While calls should be kept confidential, they say, information can still be collected anonymously to look at any patterns of harassment.
Margaret Gribbon, an employment lawyer at Glasgow’s Bridge Litigation, said that the 14 calls received by the hotline “are 14 calls too many”.
She said: “It is 14 too many in my view. You can have equal opportunity documents and helplines until you are blue in the face but what is important in any organisation is that the culture is changed, from top down and bottom up.
“I would want some sort of helpline that, with the callers’ consent, is able to pass on the information anonymously. ”
Concern over levels of sexual harassment in the workplace began last year following a series of allegations against Holyrood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Growing numbers of women made similar allegations, including against Westminster MPs and Holyrood politicians.
Scottish Government Children’s Minister Mark McDonald resigned from the cabinet, and subsequently quit the SNP, after three women made complaints against him.
It emerged he had sent inappropriate texts to two parliamentary workers, while a third had woken in his hotel room after a night out, with no idea how she got there.
A parliament spokesman said: “The helpline is there to provide advice and support for people experiencing or concerned about harassment.
“It is completely confidential and separate to the process for making complaints. ”