Civil servants were signed off as sick due to pressures at work, says an official complaint being reviewed as part of the investigation into alleged bullying by deputy prime minister Dominic Raab.
The group statement submitted by 27 staff stated: “The combination of the pressure of work and unreasonable deadlines has had such an impact on some colleagues’ mental and physical health that they have visited their GPs, and some have subsequently been signed off work for extended periods of time.
“Colleagues have confided … that they have been reluctant to be signed off due to the impact that this would have on their other team members,” it continued.
The evidence was submitted to Adam Tolley KC, who is leading the independent investigation into the claims. It follows complaints made by at least three senior civil servants earlier this year.
As the BBC understands, the three include Philip Rycroft, who ran the Department for Exiting the European Union when Mr Raab was Brexit Secretary and the current permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Antonia Romeo.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has come under fire for not acting until the investigation is complete, which could take several weeks.
In an interview for Sky News, general secretary of civil servant union the FDA, Dave Penman, said that “in any other organisation” a person facing this number of claims would have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation: “This sort of behaviour destroys lives”, he stated. “People’s lives and their mental health are at risk when they’re subject to systematic bullying”.
Mr Raab, the current justice secretary, has denied allegations of bullying.
Under the terms of reference for the investigation, Mr Tolley will "establish the specific facts". The Prime Minister then decides what the appropriate action to take is.
In the UK there's no single piece of legislation which deals with workplace bullying. Bullying may be covered by the Equality Act 2010, if it is linked to a protected characteristic. It may also be covered by the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 which requires an employer to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees. This includes where employees are suffering from work related stress.
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