livin Whistleblowing Procedure
Procedure Reference Number: Date Procedure Created: Date of Last Revision: Date Procedure Effective From: Approved By: Date Approved: Equality Impact Assessed
ER - 10 30 March 2009 20 July 2011 16 September 2011 Board 15 September 2011 28 February 2012
Content of Procedure 1.0.
Introduction • Purpose • Principles • Scope
Reporting Procedure • Responding to Concerns • How the Matter Can be Taken Further
Safeguards • Harassment or Victimisation • Anonymous Allegations • Untrue Allegations
Monitoring and Review
Introduction Purpose The aim of this procedure is to encourage and enable employees, former employees, Board Members and former Board Members to raise any serious concerns within livin rather than overlooking a problem or “blowing the whistle” externally. livin, via this procedure, aims to; •
• • •
Encourage employees/Board Members (and former employees and Board Members) and other workers to feel confident in raising serious concerns in relation to internal livin issues as well as concerns related to those acting on behalf of livin (e.g. contractors) and to question and act upon concerns about practice; Provide avenues for employees/Board Members/workers to raise those concerns and receive feedback on any action taken; Ensure that employees/Board Members/workers receive a response to their concerns and that they are aware how to pursue them if they are not satisfied; Reassure employees/Board Members/workers that they will be protected from possible reprisals or victimisation if they have a reasonable belief that they have made any disclosure in good faith.
This procedure provides a framework for all employees, managers and Board Members to work to. It is not possible to set out precise details to cover all eventualities. If an employee, manager or Board Member requires further information regarding whistleblowing they should contact Human Resources. Principles livin is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. This commitment is outlined in livin’s Codes of Conduct for Employees and Board Members (ER – 02, Governance Pack document 6(i)/9) which has been endorsed by both the Board and Trade Unions/Employee Representatives. Scope This procedure applies to all employees, former employees, Board Members, and former Board Members of livin. Those working for livin but are not employees or Board Members, e.g. agency workers, work experience, contractors etc. may also use this procedure to raise any concerns. Other types of worker such as consultants, volunteers etc. while they may not meet the definition of a ‘worker’ under the Public Disclosure Act 1998, are encouraged to use this procedure and will receive protection in line with section 4. Throughout this procedure where employee/Board Member/worker is mentioned this refers to all these groups, with the exception of paragraphs 3.2/3.6, 4.12 and 4.13.
This procedure is in addition to livin’s Complaints Procedure, Anti-Corruption Anti-Fraud Policy, Anti-Bribery Policy and other statutory reporting procedures.
Any complaints which fall under the remit of livin’s Grievance Procedure (ER – 06) should not be raised via this procedure. This procedure covers concerns that fall outside the scope of other procedures, including; • •
Conduct which is an offence or a breach of law; Disclosures related to miscarriages of justice;
• • • • •
Health and Safety risks, including risks to the public as well as other employees; Damage to the environment; Unauthorised use of public funds; Possible fraud and corruption; Instances of suspected bribery, including passive or active bribery or failing to prevent bribery; Sexual or physical abuse, and;Other unethical conduct.
Employees or Board Members are often the first to realise that there may be something seriously wrong within livin. However, they may not express their concerns because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or to livin. They may also fear harassment or victimisation. In these circumstances it may be easier to ignore the concern rather than report what may just be a suspicion of malpractice.
livin’s Codes of Conduct outline livin’s commitment to encourage and protect employees and Board Members who disclose information in relation to matters which they feel breach the high standards expected of livin. In line with that commitment livin expects its employees and Board Members, and any other person who has serious concerns about any aspect of livin’s work, to come forward and voice those concerns. It is recognised that most cases will have to proceed on a confidential basis.
While other workers as such are not covered by livin’s Codes of Conduct, livin will ensure that any such person making a disclosure receives similar treatment.
This procedure makes it clear that concerns can be voiced without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination or disadvantage.
Any serious concerns that an employee has about any aspect of service provision or the conduct of employees, Board members or others acting on behalf of livin can be reported under this procedure. This may be about something that; • • • •
Is against known standards, the experience of the employee, or the standards to which they believe livin subscribes; Is against livin’s Standing Orders and policies; Falls below established standards of practice, or; Amounts to improper conduct.
In the first instance an employee should raise the concern with their manager who will refer the matter to either of the Executive Directors mentioned below if they feel the matter is serious enough to warrant further investigation.
In the case of workers who do not have a manager within livin, they should raise their concern with their main contact within livin.
If the employee feels they cannot raise the matter with their manager (for example, the concern implicates the manager) or they have raised the matter with their manager before and it has not been addressed, they should feel able to approach the Executive Director Finance and Governance or the Executive Director People and Communities directly.
If a manager is unsure how to deal with a concern that has been raised with them, they should contact either of the Executive Directors mentioned above.
Board Members should raise any concerns with either of the Executive Directors mentioned above.
If an employee/Board Member/worker feels unable to raise a concern with anyone at livin, they can contact the Public Concern at Work helpline (020 7404 6609) for free confidential and impartial advice.
Concerns may be raised verbally or in writing. Employees or Board Members who wish to make a written report are invited to use the following format: • •
The background and history of the concern (giving relevant dates); The reason why they are particularly concerned about the situation.
Although employees/Board Members/workers are not expected to prove beyond doubt the truth of an allegation, they will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are reasonable grounds for their concern. However, employees are not expected to investigate the matter themselves and will not need to provide supporting material.
3.10. Concerns should be reported without delay. The earlier a concern is expressed, the easier it is to take action. 3.11. An employee/Board Members may, if they wish, discuss their concern with a colleague first as they may find it easier to raise the matter if there are two (or more) who have had the same experience or concerns.
Responding to Concerns 3.12. livin will respond to all concerns raised. Do not forget that testing concerns is not the same as either accepting or rejecting them. 3.13. Where appropriate, the matters raised may: • • • • •
Be investigated by management, livin’s appointed internal auditors, or through the Disciplinary Procedure (ER – 05); Be referred to the Police; Be referred to the external auditor; Form the subject of an independent inquiry. Become the subject of criminal and or civil court action
3.14. In order to protect individuals and those accused of misdeeds or possible malpractice, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. 3.15. Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation. If urgent action is required this will be taken before any investigation is conducted and in all such circumstances where urgent action is required either of the responsible Executive Directors will have the issue referred to them by a manager immediately to take such action.
3.16. The responsible person i.e. the manager, Executive Director Finance and Governance or Executive Director People and Communities will keep in touch with the person who raised the concern and as a minimum will contact them in writing and; • • • •
Indicate how they propose to deal with the matter; Give an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response; Detail whether any inquiries have been made and what the outcome of these was; Inform what action (if any) will be taken, or why action will not be taken.
3.17. The amount of contact between the officers considering the issues and the person who raised the concern will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, livin will seek further information from the person who raised the concern. 3.18. Where any meeting is arranged, (which may be off-site on request), the employee, Board Member or worker can be accompanied by a trade union official or work colleague if they wish. 3.19. livin will take steps to minimise any difficulties which an employee, Board Member or worker may experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if they are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings livin will arrange for them to receive advice about the procedure at no cost to them. 3.20. livin accepts that employees,Board Members and workers need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal constraints, livin will inform the employee, Board Member or worker of the outcome of any investigation. N.B. Due to issues of confidentiality the employee will not be informed of the details of any disciplinary action to be taken against another employee. 3.21. Appendix A attached shows how livin will manage any concerns raised. How the Matter Can be Taken Further 3.22. This procedure is intended to provide you with an avenue within livin to raise concerns. livin hopes that those raising concerns will be satisfied with any action taken. If they are not, and if they feel it is right to take the matter outside livin, the following are possible contact points: • • • • • • •
Housing Ombudsman Service Either livin’s External Auditor or Internal Auditor Trade Union Local Citizens Advice Bureau Relevant professional bodies or regulatory organisations A relevant voluntary organisation The Police.
3.23. If an employee/Board Member/worker does take the matter outside livin they should ensure that they do not disclose confidential information.
4.0. Safeguards Harassment or Victimisation
livin is committed to good practice and high standards and wants to be supportive of employees, Board Members and workers.
livin recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make. If what an employee, Board Member or worker reports is true, they should have nothing to fear because they will be doing their duty to livin and those for whom they are providing a service.
livin will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) and will take appropriate action via its Dignity at Work Procedure (ED – 03) to protect employees, and Board Members in general, who raise a concern in good faith.
If an employee, Board Member or worker who has raised a concern is experiencing harassment or victimisation as a result they should contact the person they reported their concern to, or human resources.
However, it should be noted that in order to receive legal protection from detriment (e.g. via a tribunal case), a former employee or former Board member will need to meet the definition of a “worker”, as defined by the Employment Rights Act 1996, at the time of making a disclosure.
Any investigation into allegations of potential malpractice will not influence or be influenced by any disciplinary or redundancy procedures that already affect the employee/Board Member.
Anonymous Allegations This procedure encourages open reporting, whereby the name of the employee, Board Member or worker who has raised the issue is known to those who are investigating it.
All concerns will be treated in confidence and those involved in the investigation will not disclose the identity of the employee/Board Member/worker. However, there may be times when an employee, Board Member or worker is required to “reveal” their identity e.g. if they have to act as a witness, or other employees may guess the identity of the reporter. In all cases they will be protected by the conditions set out in sections 4.1 to 4.4 of this procedure.
Concerns expressed anonymously (i.e. no one knows the identity of the employee/Board Member) are much less powerful but will be considered at the discretion of the livin.
4.10. In exercising this discretion the factors to be taken into account would include; • • •
The seriousness of the issues raised; The credibility of the concern, and; The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources.
Untrue Allegations 4.11. If an employee/Board Member makes an allegation in good faith, but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against them. 4.12. If, however, an employee makes a vexatious or malicious allegation or raises an allegation for personal gaindisciplinary action may taken according to livin’s Disciplinary Procedure (ER – 05).
4.13. If a Board Member makes a vexatious or malicious allegation or raises an allegation for personal gain, disciplinary action may be taken, under the Rules of the Organisation (Governance Pack document 2 /Board Member Code of Conduct – pack document 6(i)). The Board disciplinary procedure also may be activated in such circumstances. 4.14. If a worker makes a vexatious or malicious allegation, action will be taken via the appropriate procedure, organisation or contractual term. Failure to Report 4.15. Employees and Board Members must report any concerns as soon as possible in line with this procedure. Failure to report concerns which are subsequently found proven (in particular where suspected bribery is involved) will result in disciplinary action being taken via the relevant Disciplinary Procedure, and in certain cases may be subject to prosecution. 5.0.
Monitoring and Review
Where concerns are raised the responsible person shall maintain a record detailing; • • • •
The date the concern was reported and to whom; The section of livin the report referred to; A summary of the concern and its background; The proposed response and any action taken;
This information shall be promptly forwarded to the Executive Director People and Communities who maintains confidential records of concerns raised and the outcomes, which are reported to the Board on an annual basis
5.3. In accordance with livin’s Governance Framework, this procedure will be reviewed on an annual basis. End of Procedure
Appendix A Whistleblowing Flowchart This flowchart illustrates how livin will deal with Whistleblowing issues. Employee/worker contacts manager/contact with issue
If matter does not require investigation, manager resolve
If manager cannot resolve or issue requires investigation, refer to Executive Director
Inform employee and Executive Director People and Communities of outcome
Employee/Board Member/worker contacts Executive Director with issue
Executive Director ensures investigation is undertaken
Employee/Board Member/worker kept informed of process
Investigation completed. Any necessary action taken.
Executive Director People and Communities enters information in register
Employee/Board Member/worker Manager/ informed of outcome