1. Policy objective
Policy to enable employees to make a disclosure or "blow the whistle" concerning a wrongdoing which typically (though not necessarily) they have witnessed at work which is in the public interest.
This policy is compliant with Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Disclosure Act 1998) and the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, Guidance for Employers and Code of Practice on Whistleblowing (March 2015).
2. Chorley Borough Council's Responsibility
The following principles apply to the Council's procedures for dealing with disclosures:
- promoting an open, transparent and safe working environment where employees are able to speak up
- commitment to listening to the concerns of workers
- publicise the existence of the Whistleblowing Policy
- ensure that anyone dealing with concerns or disclosures has been trained on handling disclosures
- deal with disclosures promptly and professionally within an agreed framework and procedure
- will ensure that employees who make disclosures in good faith do not suffer any detriment
- will not prevent individuals who may have signed any settlement agreement which contains a confidentiality clause, from making a disclosure
3. Employee's Responsibilities
In order to be covered by this Policy, an employee making a disclosure must reasonably believe that:
a)They are acting in the public interest, and
b)that the disclosure tends to show past, present or likely future wrongdoing falling into one or more of the following categories;
- criminal offences (this may include, for example, types of financial impropriety such as fraud)
- failure to comply with an obligation set out in law
- miscarriage of justice
- endangering of someone's health and safety
- damage to the environment
- covering up wrongdoing in the above categories
The policy does not cover personal grievances or complaints which should be dealt with under the Grievance or Bullying and Harassment Procedures.
There may be situations where you are unsure as to whether your concerns should be raised under the Whistleblowing Policy or another Policy, in such situations we would prefer you to raise such concerns rather than worry about the appropriate procedure.
1. Scope of the policy
This Policy applies to all employees of the Council and other people working for the Council, such as agency, staff and contractors.
The Council also takes active steps to ensure that key contractors providing services on behalf of the Council either have their own whistle blowing arrangements in place or adopt the Council's.
These procedures are in addition to the Council's Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy and the Council's Complaints Procedures and other specifically laid down statutory reporting procedures applying to some Service Units. If the concern relates to an elected Member, this may involve a potential breach of the Members' Code of Conduct which may result in a referral to the Council's Standards Committee and this in turn could lead to either internal or external investigation.
2. Protection under the policy
The Council is committed to this policy and recognise the benefits that whistleblowing can bring to an organisation by addressing and preventing wrongdoings and creating an open and supportive culture. If you raise a genuine concern under this policy, you will not be at risk of losing your job or suffering any form of retribution as a result. Providing you are acting in good faith, it does not matter if you are mistaken. Of course we do not extend this assurance to someone who maliciously raises a matter they know is untrue. If you make an allegation, frivolously or for personal gain, disciplinary action may be taken against you.
The Council hopes that this Policy enables people to feel able to raise concerns openly as this will make it much easier to resolve any issues, and we will not tolerate the harassment or victimisation of anyone raising a genuine concern. Disciplinary action may be taken against those who victimise a person reporting a concern.
However we recognise that you may nonetheless want to raise a concern in confidence under this policy. If you ask us to protect your identity by keeping your confidence, we will not normally disclose it without your consent. If the situation arises where we are not able to resolve the concern without revealing your identity (for instance because your evidence is needed in court) we will discuss with you whether and how we can proceed. Despite your request for confidentiality, there may be circumstances therefore, where the Council must disclose your identity.
If you do not tell us who you are, it will be much more difficult for us to look into the matter or to protect your position or to give you feedback. Accordingly, while we will consider anonymous reports, this policy is not well suited to concerns raised anonymously.
3. Raising a concern (internally)
Concerns may be raised orally or in writing. Whether a written or oral report is made it is important that relevant information is provided covering:-
- your name and a contact point. As referred to above it will be more difficult for the Council to pursue issues if concerns have been expressed anonymously
- the background and history of the concern (giving relevant dates and names and positions of those who may have contributed to your concern
- the reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation
- any personal interest or connection which you may have in the matter.
You may be accompanied by a recognised trade union representative or work colleague, at any meetings or interviews in connection with the concerns you have raised.
Where possible, in the first instance concerns should be raised with your line manager/Service Manager/Head of Service/Human Resources or the Monitoring Officer.
Depending upon the nature of your concerns, you may feel unable, or that it is not appropriate, to raise the matter with your line manager Service Manager or Service Head. Concerns can therefore also be raised, both orally and in writing, with any director, the Monitoring Officer, the Head of Human Resources, the Chief Executive, Internal Audit or your trade union.
Whoever the concern is reported to will determine the most appropriate course of action to take, which may necessitate them consulting with other people, both within and outside the Council.
Potential action may include an internal enquiry, formal investigation or the involvement of outside bodies, depending upon the nature of the concern raised. It may also be necessary to seek further information from yourself.
You will be informed of who is investigating the matter that you have raised, and we will give you as much feedback on the investigation, including any actions taken as we properly can, as soon as practical. You may also contact the investigating officer(s) for an update if so wish. There may be situations where information cannot be provided where the investigating officer(s) consider that the information is sensitive and/or confidential.
A confidential record of will be maintained within Human Resources on behalf of the Monitoring Officer of all whistleblowing activity (unless the matter concerns Human Resources in which case it will be kept securely by the Monitoring Officer) and will include the nature of the matter, dates, details of any requested confidentiality, and information provided to the person(s) raising the concern.
It is recognised that an employee may be anxious after they have raised a concern and therefore they will be offered mentoring, advice and/or counselling where this is appropriate.
It may also be appropriate to provide support services after the disclosure has been made, such as mediation and dispute resolution to help rebuild trust and working relationships.
An employee may also request any of the above services, at any time.
6. Raising a concern (externally)
Whilst we hope this policy gives you the reassurance you need to raise matters internally, you may have concerns which you feel need to be raised outside the Council immediately or if you are dissatisfied with the action which the Council is/has taken. Provided you are acting in good faith and you have evidence to back up your concern, you can also contact:
- external Audit (details)
- the Police (details)
- the Fraud Hot Line (this is in place to enable out of hours confidential reporting of suspected fraud and / or corruption.
- citizens Advice Bureau
- professional bodies or regulatory organisations
- the ombudsman
- the NSPCC Whistleblowing Advice Line (provides support to employees wishing to raise concerns over how child protection issues are being handled in their own or other organisations).
Information about Whistleblowing to prescribed person, and a list of Prescribed Persons can be found on the GOV.UK website.
7. What can I do if I feel I have been unfairly treated?
If you feel that you have been unfairly treated because you have blown the whistle you can raise your concerns with your line manager/Service Manager/Head of Service/Human Resources, Monitoring Officer or Chief Executive.
If you feel unable to raise concerns as detailed above you also have the right to take your case to an employment tribunal. The process for this would usually involve attempted resolution through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) early conciliation service.
8. Further information
Further information and advice and guidance can be sought from your trade union, alternatively you can get information from the following organisations:
9. Responsibility for the policy
The Council's Monitoring Officer has overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of this policy. That officer maintains a record in conjunction with Human Resources of concerns raised and the outcomes and will report as necessary to the Standards Committee and the Council. The recording and reporting procedure will involve liaison with the officers specified in Section 3 above and will be in a form which ensures your confidentiality, subject to the discretion of the Council to waive confidentiality as stated in section 2 above.