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Ministry of Justice staff lay out their complaints, with significant levels of discrimination and bullying

MoJ: Not the best place to work in government

One in seven civil servants at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) claim that they have faced discrimination in their job, and one in eight say they have been bullied or harassed.

The figures from the MoJ’s annual “people survey” show that overall staff are slightly more positive about their jobs than last year, but that the department still performs worse than the average across government on all measures.

The MoJ scored 56% in the headline measure – employee engagement – which was shaped by nine criteria, ranging from attitudes to their work and their manager, to inclusion and fair treatment, and pay and benefits.

Nearly a quarter of its staff (24%) said they intended to leave their job in the next 12 months; 63% of people said they were satisfied with their lives.

But 14% said they have personally experienced discrimination at work over the past year, while 12% have experienced bullying or harassment.

Grade, pay or level of responsibility was cited as the main cause of discrimination, followed by working patterns, but 702 staff cited age, 698 disability, 661 gender, and 481 ethnic background. Gender reassignment or perceived gender was the cause of 22 complaints.

Colleagues and managers were the main culprits for those who said they had been bullied. 

At the same time, those who felt they worked in an inclusive environment where there was fair treatment rose to 73% from 71% last year.

MoJ staff work in a broad spectrum of environments – almost a quarter of the 34,000 who responded (48% of the total staff) work in prisons, and they were more dissatisfied than most, and were more likely to complain of discrimination and bullying/harassment.

Pay and benefits were where the MoJ scored worst, with just 21% across the organisation feeling their pay adequately reflected their performance – a figure that dropped to 16% among staff in HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

Overall, three-quarters of staff said they gained a sense of personal accomplishment from working for the MoJ.

The statements that elicited the most positive answers across the MoJ were ‘I am interested in my work’, ‘I am trusted to carry out my job effectively’, ‘I have the skills I need to do my job effectively’, ‘The people in my team can be relied upon to help when things get difficult in my job’, and ‘I am treated with respect by the people I work with’.

The Legal Aid Agency was the best performing division of the MoJ, having improved on the last survey and now well above the civil service average.

The agency’s engagement index reached 71% – up from 61% last year – with a large majority happy with their work, manager and team, and 40% with their pay and benefits.

At 69%, staff’s happiness with the agency’s leadership and the way it manages change was 50% higher than the average across government.

An MoJ spokesman said: “As the survey shows, staff feel a greater sense of pride in and personal attachment to the Ministry of Justice, and are more likely to recommend it as a great place to work.

“We have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying across the department and we are creating action plans to address the specific concerns raised. But we are not complacent and are looking closely at how we can become a better employer.”