Section 4 – Human Resources Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure

Introduction

1.1 The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1999 provided employees with protection when raising genuine concerns about malpractice in the workplace. It encourages disclosures to be made internally in the first instance but also allows for certain protected disclosures to be made to specific external bodies.

1.2 The Strettons Mayfair Trust (SMT) is committed to open and honest communication and the highest possible standards of integrity. Part of meeting that commitment is to encourage employees and others who have serious concerns about wrongdoing to speak up. This may need to be on a confidential basis and the SMT wishes to emphasise that if someone does “speak up” they can do so without fear of reprisals. Such policies are termed “blowing the whistle” and this phrase is used through this statement but should be viewed as a positive action of speaking up.

1.3 Disclosures made under this procedure are monitored for statistical purposes as required under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Details of any disclosure remain confidential.

1.4 This policy and procedure will be reviewed in the light of any changes in relevant legislation.

1.5 This operation of this policy and procedure will be reviewed annually by the Board of Trustees at the September Board meeting, when the Board will receive a report from the Chief Officer.

Remember

IF YOU HAVE SERIOUS CONCERNS IT IS YOUR DUTY TO TELL US AND OUR DUTY TO PROTECT AND SUPPORT YOU, IF YOU DO.

The Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for the effective development and implementation of this policy and procedure.  The Board will seek to ensure that people are listened to and supported and will encourage a culture of openness.

Aims and Scope of this Policy

2.1 This policy aims to:

2.2 Staff, volunteers, clients, trustees and other service users may be the first to see that something is seriously wrong within the SMT. Such wrongdoings may relate to:

2.4 It is the duty of employees to speak up when they have serious concerns and it is the duty of the SMT to act on those concerns and protect and support employees when they do. A failure to report serious concerns could be construed as collusion. Difficult as it may be to speak up, employees should be aware of their special position and of their duty to make their concerns known.

2.5 This Policy is issued to employees to advise specifically on blowing the whistle on wrong doing. It should not be confused with the complaints procedure (where the public can complain about the SMT or SMT’s services) or the grievance procedure (where you complain about your own treatment as an employee).

Serious Concerns

3.1 Serious concern may be related to something that:

3.2 Theft, bribery and corruption, the abuse of children or vulnerable adults, service users or staff, volunteers, clients, trustees and environmental misuse are all the type of things which would fall into these categories.

3.3 Concerns may relate to the treatment of vulnerable adults, children and young people. This could mean, for example, that a person or persons are:

attention or care;

3.4 Procedures for dealing with allegations or concerns about child abuse already exist in the Safeguarding of Children and Young People Policy and Procedure.

3.5 For SMT based staff, volunteers, clients, trustees and other service users there are existing procedures to enable lodging of a grievance relating to their own roles.

PROCEDURE

4.1 Anti-Bullying and Harassment

The SMT recognise that deciding to report a concern can be difficult, not least because of the fear of reprisal from those responsible for the malpractice.

4.2 The SMT will not tolerate harassment or bullying and will take action to protect an individual when a concern is raised in good faith. However, if a whistleblower is already the  subject of disciplinary or redundancy procedures, those procedures will not be halted as a result of their whistleblowing.

4.3 Confidentiality

The SMT will do its best to protect the identity of a whistleblower when a concern is raised. It must, however, be appreciated that the investigation process may reveal the source of the information and a statement of complaint may be required as part of the evidence.

4.4 Anonymous Allegations

As a rule, we encourage someone who makes an allegation to be identified. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful, but they will be considered at the discretion of Chief Officer, in conjunction with the Trustees of the SMT. In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account would include:

Allegations which do not appear to be motivated by personal animosity and which if true, would have serious implications for the SMT, are more likely to be considered, even though made anonymously.

4.5 Untrue Allegations

If an allegation made in good faith, is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against the individual making the allegation. In such circumstances employees will be supported. If, however, malicious or vexatious allegations are made, disciplinary action may be taken against the individual making the allegation, but the matter would be referred to the Chair of Trustees to investigate before any action is taken.

4.6 Support

Throughout and after this difficult process an individual will be given full support from the Chief Officer.  Concerns will be taken seriously and the SMT will do all it can to the individual.

How to raise a concern

5.1 As a first step concerns should be raised with the immediate line manager or Chief Officer. This will depend, however, on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is thought to be involved in the wrongdoing.

If the line manager, or Chief Officer are involved, an approach should be made to the link trustee for the area concerned, or to any trustee.

If a trustee is involved an approach should be made to the Chair of Trustees

5.2 Alternatively, a trade union or other representative body can raise the matter.

5.3 The earlier concerns are expressed the better and the easier it will be to take action. Concerns are better raised in writing and setting out:

5.4 In order to ensure the confidentiality of the expression of concern it is suggested that the letter/written note is placed in a sealed envelope addressed to the appropriate person and clearly mark it “Strictly Private and Confidential – To be opened by the addressee only”. This can be done anonymously although the addressee may exercise their discretion not to investigate an anonymous complaint.

5.5 The persons making the allegation will need to demonstrate to those appointed to investigate the matter, that there are sufficient grounds for the concern.  A trade union or a third party to raise a matter on behalf of an individual.

5.6 Further advice and guidance on what to do can be found in the:

How the SMT will respond

 6.1 The action taken will depend on the nature of the concern. The matters raised may:

 be investigated internally by Chief Officer;

  involved;

6.2 In order to protect individuals, and the SMT, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. These will be made confidentially and every attempt made to protect the employee. Concerns or allegations which fall within the scope of specific procedures (for example, child protection issues) will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures. Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation.

6.3 Within ten working days of a concern being received, the SMT will write to the person raising the concern:

6.4 The amount of contact between the representatives considering the issues and the person raising the concern will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, further information will be sought.

6.5 When any meeting is arranged, the person raising the concern has the right, if desired, to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a friend who is not involved in the area of work to which the concern relates.

6.6 If the person raising the concern should become involved in further investigations or procedures (eg disciplinary proceedings or a criminal trial) as a result of using this procedure, they will be given proper support and assistance. The SMT is concerned with ensuring that no-one using this procedure is disadvantaged or unfairly treated.

6.7 The SMT accept that the person raising the concern needs to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal constraints, they will receive information about the outcome of any investigations.

How the matter can be taken further

7.1 This policy is intended to provide avenues for people to raise concerns within the SMT.  If this policy and procedure is not felt to be satisfactory in the circumstances the list below sets out other possible contact points outside SMT where the concerns could be raised:

7.2 The disclosure of confidential information would normally constitute a grave disciplinary offence which could result in dismissal or other disciplinary action.

Accordingly, if the concern is taken outside the SMT there is a need to ensure that either no confidential information is disclosed or that there are wholly exceptional circumstances which the SMT would consider justified a disclosure.

Follow Proper Procedures

8.1 One of the best ways of guarding against corruption is to ensure that proper procedures are followed – in the way decisions are taken, in the way contracts are awarded and in the way employees conduct themselves.

Remember –

IF YOU HAVE SERIOUS CONCERNS IT IS YOUR DUTY TO TELL US AND OUR DUTY TO PROTECT AND SUPPORT YOU, IF YOU DO.\

Version2020.1
Date27.01.2020
This procedure was adopted by the Chief Officer on
Signed (Chief Officer)
This procedure shall be reviewed at intervals of1 YEAR By CJT