The Attorney General’s Office (AGO), which provides legal advice and support to the government’s law officers, has pledged to look after the mental, emotional, social and physical health of its staff. The commitment appears in its first 'wellbeing statement', published at what the treasury solicitor has described as an 'exceptionally busy and challenging time'.
The 46-strong AGO supports attorney general Jeremy Wright QC MP and solicitor general Robert Buckland QC MP who provide legal advice to the government, oversee the Government Legal Department, Crown Prosecution and Serious Fraud Office, and perform other public interest duties.
The statement, issued this week, reads: 'In the Attorney General's Office we value and care about our own and each other's mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing. We treat everyone with respect and are committed to building and maintaining a work environment which supports wellbeing. As a team we will strive to support each other, while respecting each other's privacy.
'The executive board is committed to wellbeing and it will be considered by the executive board in fulfilling its functions and by line managers when fulfilling their management responsibilities.
'We all recognise that feeling valued and supported, being heard, having good team relationships and working environments and sharing and solving problems together are all important to ensuring wellbeing at work. The Wellbeing Champions will promote initiatives and activities to help us to look after and foster our wellbeing and will also seek to promote a culture which recognises the importance to wellbeing of a good work-life balance.'
According to the strategy, the wellbeing champions will develop a shared understanding of wellbeing initiatives and developments elsewhere, particularly in the CPS, GLD and wider civil service, and consider the 'main risk factors' to wellbeing in the department.
The wellbeing champions will be required to 'bear in mind' the Health and Safety Executive's 'management standards'. These include workload and work patterns, promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour, and how organisational change is managed and communicated.
Key priorities include exploring opportunities to train staff to offer individual support and guidance to colleagues, such as counsellors or as mental health first aiders, train managers to recognise stress or anxiety in employees, and how to support someone who says they are being bullied.
Jonathan Jones, GLD permanent secretary and treasury solicitor, will be invited to discuss his role as a civil service wellbeing champion. On Monday he tweeted:
Good session today with the Attorney General's Office @attorneygeneral on #Wellbeing at work. They have produced their own Wellbeing Statement & Strategy, led by a team of champions. Really important issue at an exceptionally busy & challenging time.— Jonathan Jones (@PermSecGLD) February 19, 2018
The wellbeing champions will hold focus groups to identify what has and has not worked well. The strategy will be reviewed next year.