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Hive Support Ltd
HR & Recruitment for MPs

Structuring Your Office – What to Consider?

Now that the election date is upon us, it is clear that the 2024 intake of new MPs is likely to be one of the biggest we’ve seen for a while.

Lots of lessons were learned after 2019, including the importance of getting the structure of your staff teams correct. Hiring the wrong person for the wrong job costs time, money and potentially even your reputation. Don’t rush into decisions; we can help you get this right.

As a new MP, you will be inundated with applications from people wanting to work for you. There is no guarantee that someone with Parliamentary experience on their CV is right for the role you need – do not bypass the process of interviewing and skills-testing candidates. Also be aware of ‘inheriting’ staff from the previous MP – there are pros and cons to this! We have found previously that whilst they can be really knowledgable about Parliamentary processes and local issues, they may not work the way you now think the office should be run. Make sure expectations are clear on all sides before job offers are made.

Good Parliamentary staff looking for an opportunity to move to a senior post in a new office will know the importance of a ‘good fit’. They do not all get snapped up in the first week or two after an election; they will take their time to ensure they are making a good move.

Every election, advice to candidates is “don’t hire your campaign team”. There are good reasons behind this, but equally, we understand that they may have provided excellent support to you so far, and you want that to continue. Our advice would be to use a fixed term contract initially. What you need in terms of support for the first few weeks/months, will be very different to what you need in six months time.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to what staff you want in your team. You need to think about where they will be located – do you want more staff based in your constituency, or in Westminster? Since 2019 there has been more focus on staffing constituency offices – MPs want a visible local presence, to avoid staff having to lone-work for security reasons, and due to lack of available staff space in Westminster (you are allowed 2 staff desks either within your office, or in a shared staffing space; depending on your allocation).

Here is an example of what your office set-up could look like:

Office Manager (Constituency – diary, security, IPSA, staff management)
Communications Officer/Constituency Support (Constituency – social media, press, planning and accompanying you on visits)
Caseworkers (Constituency – you will likely need at least two)
Parliamentary Assistant (Westminster based support, research)

Your Parliamentary staffing budget is set by IPSA and is calculated to allow up to five full-time members of staff, paid at 60% of the salary band. It is important to keep this in mind when you are making job offers. The staffing budget is generally increased each year in line with the ‘cost of living award’ determined for staff pay. If you want to offer additional progression pay rises (crucial for retaining good staff) it is important you retain headroom in your budget to do this.

If you want advice and guidance on using your staffing budget and building a cohesive team of staff, Hive can help with this. We have a package available to newly elected MPs which covers:

  • Discussing needs of the MP and possible staffing options
  • Access to experienced, temporary staffing support to assist post-election
  • Bespoke recruitment campaign for Westminster or constituency
  • Onboarding paperwork for staff already appointed
  • Advice and assistance with security protocols, monitoring equality and diversity processes, and right to work checks.

Feel free to drop us an email in confidence now to register your interest should your campaign be successful, or alternatively we will be available from the 5th July to start helping you build your team.

Note: Members HR – Kim McGrath and her team (part of the House of Commons Members Services Team) provide vital advice to MPs with HR and employment issues. If you have any concerns please do contact them. If you think you have made the wrong decisions over staff, or if the person you hired isn’t fitting in or up to the role, they will talk you through the process of reviewing performance, going through disciplinary processes or restructuring your teams. These are not ‘quick fixes’ and take a lot of time. It is better to make the right decisions during the hiring phase.

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