The Company encourages workers to raise genuine concerns about malpractice at the earliest possible stage in the right way. This applies to all Company employees, consultants, temporary and agency workers, and anyone on a contract for services.
The objectives of this policy are:
- To support the current legal requirements of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
- To support the Company’s values.
- To ensure employees can raise concerns without fear of suffering retribution.
- To provide a clear and confidential procedure.
This policy is informed by the following key principles
- Any concerns raised will be treated fairly and properly.
- The Company will not tolerate the harassment or victimisation of anyone raising a genuine concern.
- Any individual making a disclosure will retain their anonymity unless they agree otherwise.
- The Company will ensure that the individual raising the concern is aware of who is handling the matter.
- The Company will ensure no one will be at risk of suffering some form of retribution as a result of raising a concern even if they are mistaken. This assurance does not extend to someone who maliciously raises a matter they know is untrue.
The types of matters regarded as malpractice for the purposes of this policy are:
- Fraud or financial malpractice
• Corruption, bribery or blackmail
• Criminal offences
• Failure to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation
• Miscarriage of justice
• Endangering the health and safety of an individual
• Endangering the environment
• Concealment of any of the above.
For personal grievances please refer to the Company Grievance Policy (section 39).
If an individual has a concern about malpractice the issue should first be raised with his or her line manager either orally or in writing. If the individual does not feel able to raise the matter with his or her line manager, a member of the Board of Directors may be approached.
Once a concern has been raised internally, the employee involved will be kept informed on who is handling the matter, how contact can be made with him or her, and if anything further is needed.
The Company will give as much feedback as possible without infringing any duty of confidence owed by the Company to someone else, or any data protection obligation. The Company will not disclose the identity of a party raising a concern without obtaining the consent of that person. If the situation arises where the Company is not able to resolve the concern without revealing the identity of a relevant party (e.g. if evidence is required in court), this will be discussed in order to determine the best way to proceed.
Independent advice can be sought at any time from the independent charity Public Concern At Work (0207 404 6609). Their lawyers can give / provide free confidential advice at any stage about how to raise a concern about serious malpractice at work. (http://www.pcaw.co.uk/).
Sometimes a person making an allegation of malpractice or maladministration may wish to remain anonymous, although it is always preferable to reveal your identity and provide us with your contact details. However, if you are concerned about possible adverse consequences that may occur should your identity be revealed to another party then please inform us that you do not wish for us to divulge your identity and we will work to ensure your details are not disclosed.
We will always aim to keep a whistleblower’s identify confidential where asked to do so although we cannot guarantee this, and we may need to disclose your identity should the complaint lead to issues that need to be taken forward by other parties. For example:
- The police, fraud prevention agencies or other law enforcement agencies (to investigate or prevent crime, including fraud)
- The courts (in connection with any court proceedings)
- Other third parties such as the relevant regulatory authority (e.g. Ofqual in England).
- The investigator(s) assigned to review the allegation will not reveal the whistleblower’s identity unless the whistleblower agrees or it is absolutely necessary for the purposes of the investigation (as noted above). The investigator(s) will advise the whistleblower if it becomes necessary to reveal their identity against their wishes.
A whistleblower should also recognise that he or she may be identifiable by others due to the nature or circumstances of the disclosure (e.g. the party which the allegation is made against may manage to identify possible sources of disclosure without such details being disclosed to them).
Once a concern has been raised we have a duty to pursue the matter. It will not be possible to prevent the matter being investigated by subsequently withdrawing their concern as we are obliged by the regulators to follow-up and investigate allegations of malpractice or maladministration.
In all cases, we will keep you updated as to how we have progressed the allegation (e.g. we have undertaken an investigation) and the whistle-blower will have the opportunity to raise any concerns about the way the investigation is being conducted with the investigator(s). However, we won’t disclose details of all of the investigation activities and it may not be appropriate for us to disclose full details of the outcomes of the investigation due to confidentiality or legal reasons (e.g. disclose full details on the action that may be taken against the parties concerned). While we cannot guarantee that we will disclose all matters in the way that you might wish, we will strive to handle the matter fairly and properly.
The paragraphs below explain how an investigation is likely to be handled.
Responsibility for the Investigation
In accordance with regulatory requirements all suspected cases of malpractice and/or maladministration will be examined promptly by The Company to establish if malpractice or maladministration has occurred and we will take all reasonable steps taken to prevent any adverse effect from occurring as defined by the regulators.
All suspected cases of malpractice and maladministration will be passed to our Head of Centre Management and we will acknowledge receipt, as appropriate, to external parties within 48 hours. All high-risk cases of malpractice and/or maladministration will be escalated to the Head of Compliance and Assurance to investigate further.
Our Head of Compliance and Assurance will be responsible for ensuring the investigation is carried out in a prompt and effective manner and in accordance with the procedures in this policy and will allocate a relevant member of staff (e.g. a member of our centre management team/escalated to compliance and assurance) to lead the investigation and establish whether or not the malpractice or maladministration has occurred, and review any supporting evidence received or gathered by The Company.
At all times we will ensure that The Company personnel assigned to the investigation have the appropriate level of training and competence and they have had no previous involvement or personal interest in the matter.
Notifying Relevant Parties
In all cases we will tell the person who made the allegation who will be handling the matter, how they can contact them, what further assistance we may need from them and agree a timetable for feedback (see the above section on ‘Confidentiality and Whistleblowing’ for possible limitations in relation to the feedback, and the section below on ‘Investigation Timelines and Summary Process’ for details of our anticipated response times).