Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) is committed to the highest standards of openness, probity and accountability.
An important aspect of accountability and transparency is a mechanism to enable staff and other members of WWTW to voice concerns in a responsible and effective manner. It is a fundamental term of every contract of employment that an employee will faithfully serve his or her employer and not disclose confidential information about the employer’s affairs. Nevertheless, where an individual discovers information which they believe shows serious malpractice or wrongdoing within the organisation then this information should be disclosed internally without fear of reprisal, and there should be arrangements to enable this to be done independently of line management (although in relatively minor instances the line manager would be the appropriate person to be told).
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 governs whistleblowing and is an amendment to the Employment Rights Act 1996. This provides protection to employees against being dismissed or penalised by their employers as a result of publicly disclosing certain serious concerns. WWTW has endorsed the provisions set out below to ensure that no members of staff should feel at a disadvantage in raising legitimate concerns.
It should be emphasised that this policy is intended to assist individuals who believe they have discovered malpractice or impropriety. It is not designed to question financial or business decisions taken by WWTW nor should it be used to reconsider any matters which have already been addressed under harassment, complaint, disciplinary or other procedures. With these procedures in place it is reasonable to expect, where possible, that staff will raise matters internally, and give WWTW a fair opportunity for response, before sharing their concerns outside of the organisation.
Scope of policy
This policy is designed to enable all staff who work for WWTW to raise concerns internally and at a high level and to disclose information which the individual believes shows malpractice or impropriety.
Under certain circumstances, employees are protected from suffering any detriment or termination of employment if they make disclosures about organisations for whom they work.
Certain disclosures are prescribed by law as “qualifying disclosures”. A “qualifying disclosure” means a disclosure of information that the employee genuinely and reasonably believes is in the public interest and shows that the Charity has committed a “relevant failure” by:
- committing a criminal offence
- failing to comply with a legal obligation
- a miscarriage of justice
- endangering the health and safety of an individual
- environmental damage or
- concealing any information relating to the above
These acts can be in the past, present or future, so that, for example, a disclosure qualifies if it relates to environmental damage that has happened, is happening, or is likely to happen. The Charity will take any concerns that you may raise relating to the above matters very seriously.
This policy is designed to offer protection any member of staff who discloses such concerns, provided the disclosure is made:
- in good faith
- in the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure that it tends to show malpractice or impropriety and if they make the disclosure to an appropriate person (see below)
This policy is in place to reassure staff that it is safe and acceptable to speak up and enable concerns to be raised at an early stage and in the right way. Rather than wait for proof, we would prefer you to raise the matter when it is still a concern. It can be difficult to know what to do when these concerns are about unlawful conduct or unethical behaviour, financial irregularities, dangers to the public or environment, health and safety issues, or if you feel these issues are being inappropriately concealed which is why we have set out the procedures to follow in such circumstances.
WWTW will treat all such disclosures in a confidential and sensitive manner. The identity of the individual making the allegation may be kept confidential so long as it does not hinder or frustrate any investigation. However, it is recognised that the investigation process may reveal the source of the information as the individual making the disclosure may need to provide a statement as part of the evidence required.
This policy encourages individuals to put their name to any disclosures they make. Concerns expressed anonymously may appear less credible, and will be considered at the discretion of WWTW.
In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account will include:
- The seriousness of the issues raised
- The credibility of the concern
- The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources
If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not confirmed by subsequent investigation, no action will be taken against that individual. In making a disclosure the individual should exercise due care to ensure the accuracy of the information. If, however, an individual makes malicious or vexatious allegations, and particularly if he or she persists with making them, disciplinary action may be taken against that individual.
Procedures for making a disclosure
If you have a concern about a risk, malpractice, or wrongdoing at work, we hope you will feel able to raise it firstly with your Line Manager or Regional Director. This may be done verbally or in writing. You may involve a friend, or a colleague at this stage, providing that that person will not be involved in the investigation.
Should the concern relate to your line manager raise the concern directly with your Regional Manager.
Managers must help to create a climate where staff feel able to talk in confidence without the threat of disciplinary action being taken against them.
On receipt of a complaint of malpractice, the Line Manager will conduct a preliminary investigation
If this stage of the investigation and any resultant action does not resolve the matter, or if a concern involves your immediate Line Manager, you should raise the concerns with your Regional Director or HR for the appointment of a designated investigating officer.
- Complaints of malpractice will be investigated in the first instance by your immediate line manager
- If you feel your complaint of malpractice has not been dealt with effectively by your Line Manager you must escalate your concerns to your Regional Director or HR
- If your complaint of malpractice involves any of the persons specified to report to or has not been dealt with effectively you may escalate your concerns directly to the Chief Executive for referral to an appropriate Manager
- You have the right to bypass the line management structure and take your concerns to the Chairman of the Trustees should your complaint of malpractice relate directly to your reporting Managers or if prior concerns have not been dealt with appropriately. The Chairman has the right to refer the complaint back to management if he/she feels that the management without any conflict of interest can more appropriately investigate the complaint
If there is evidence of criminal activity then the investigating officer should inform the police. WWTW will ensure that any internal investigation does not hinder a formal police investigation.
Due to the varied nature of these sorts of complaints, which may involve internal investigators and / or the police, it is not possible to lay down precise timescales for such investigations. The investigating officer should ensure that the investigations are undertaken as quickly as possible without affecting the quality and depth of those investigations.
The investigating officer, should as soon as practically possible, send a written acknowledgement of the concern to the complainant and thereafter report back to them in writing the outcome of the investigation and on the action that is proposed. If the investigation is a prolonged one, the investigating officer should keep the complainant informed, in writing, as to the progress of the investigation and as to when it is likely to be concluded.
All responses to the complainant should be in writing and sent to their home address.
The investigating officer should follow these steps:
- Full details and clarifications of the complaint should be obtained
- Where the complaint relates to a member of staff, the investigating officer should inform the member of staff against as soon as is practically possible. The member of staff will be informed of their right to be accompanied by a union or other representative, or trusted colleague at any future interview or hearing held under the provision of these procedures
- The investigating officer should consider the involvement of WWTW’s auditors and the Police at this stage and should consult with the Chairman / Chief Executive
- The allegations should be fully investigated by the investigating officer with the assistance where appropriate, of other individuals / bodies
- A judgement concerning the complaint and validity of the complaint will be made by the investigating officer. This judgement will be detailed in a written report containing the findings of the investigations and reasons for the judgement. The report will be passed to the Chief Executive or Chairman as appropriate
- The Chief Executive / Chairman will decide what action to take. If the complaint is shown to be justified, then they will invoke the disciplinary or other appropriate WWTW procedures
- The complainant should be kept informed of the progress of the investigations and, if appropriate, of the final outcome
- If appropriate, a copy of the outcomes will be passed to WWTW’s Senior Management Team to enable a review of the procedures
If the complainant is not satisfied that their concern is being properly dealt with by the investigating officer, they have the right to raise it in confidence with the Chief Executive / Chairman, or one of the designated persons described above.
If the investigation finds the allegations unsubstantiated and all internal procedures have been exhausted, but the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, WWTW recognises the lawful rights of employees and ex-employees to make disclosures to prescribed persons (such as the Health and Safety Executive, the Audit Commission, or the utility regulators), or, where justified, elsewhere.
Please contact us if you would like further information.
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