Policies & Proceedures
VIP is committed to conducting its business with honesty and integrity and expects all staff to maintain high standards in accordance with their contractual obligations and the Company’s policies and procedures.
However, all organisations face the risk of things going wrong from time to time, or of unknowingly harbouring illegal or unethical conduct. A culture of openness and accountability is essential in order to prevent such situations occurring or to address them when they do occur.
This procedure is not a substitute for normal line management processes but an addition to them. Staff should always first consider using normal line management for raising concerns. This procedure is only for the purpose of raising concerns about wrongdoing and is not a substitute or alternative for existing procedures such as the Grievance, Disciplinary Procedures for staff or the complaints procedure.
This procedure should only be used where all other existing internal procedures are felt to be inappropriate or when a member of staff, for whatever reason, feels inhibited in going through the normal line management. As an example, therefore, if a member of staff has a personal grievance then it must be raised through the grievance procedure; it would not be appropriate for it to be raised through this procedure. The procedure is therefore not a route through which employees can raise concerns about mismanagement which may arise from weak management rather than malpractice.
Aims of policy
To encourage staff to report suspected wrongdoing as soon as possible, in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and investigated as appropriate, and that their confidentiality will be respected;
- To provide staff with guidance as to how to raise those concerns;
- To reassure staff that they should be able to raise genuine concerns in good faith without fear of reprisals, even if they turn out to be mistaken.
This policy takes account of the Whistleblowing Arrangements Code of Practice issued by the British Standards Institute.
This policy does not form part of an employee’s contract of employment and is not intended to have contractual effect. It is provided for guidance to all members of staff at VIP, and the Company reserves the right to amend its content at any time.
This Policy reflects Company’s current practices and applies to all individuals working for VIP.
What is whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is the disclosure of information which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work. This may include:
- criminal activity;
- child protection and/or safeguarding concerns; * See note at the end of this policy
- miscarriages of justice;
- danger to health and safety;
- damage to the environment;
- failure to comply with any legal or professional obligation or regulatory requirements;
- financial fraud or mismanagement;
- breach of the company’s internal policies and procedures;
- conduct likely to damage the Company’s reputation;
- unauthorised disclosure of confidential information;
- the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.
A ‘whistle-blower’ is a person who raises a genuine concern in good faith relating to any of the above. If Staff are uncertain whether something is within the scope of this policy they should seek advice.
Raising a concern
The company hopes that in many cases Staff will be able to raise any concerns with their Line Manager, speaking to them in person or putting the matter in writing if they prefer. They may be able to agree a way of resolving a concern quickly and effectively.
However, where the matter is more serious, or you feel that your Line Manager has not addressed your concern, or you prefer not to raise it with them for any reason, you should contact the following:
The Director will arrange a meeting with the ‘whistle-blower’ as soon as practicable to discuss their concern. They will record sufficient details to enable the matter to be thoroughly investigated. As a minimum the Director will record the name of the employee but also indicate whether the individual wishes his or her identity to remain confidential, if possible, and the nature of the concern. In some cases, it will not be possible to maintain confidentiality and the Director should explain this to the employee. In such instances the employee will have the choice of either withdrawing or agreeing to his/her identity becoming known to enable the concern to be effectively dealt with.
Staff may bring a colleague or trade union representative to any meetings under this policy who must respect the confidentiality of the disclosure and any subsequent investigation.
The Company will take notes and produce a written summary of the concern raised and provide the ‘whistle-blower’ with a copy as soon as practicable after the meeting. The company will also aim to give the ‘‘whistle-blower’’ an indication of how it proposes to deal with the matter.
The Company hopes that Staff will feel able to voice whistleblowing concerns openly under this policy. However, if a member of staff wants to raise his or her concern confidentially, the Company will endeavour to keep his or her identity secret in so far as it is possible to do so when following this policy and procedure. If it is necessary for anyone investigating that member of staff’s concern to know the ‘whistle-blower’s identity, the Company will discuss this with the member of staff first.
The Company does not encourage Staff to make disclosures anonymously. Proper investigation may be more difficult or impossible if the Company cannot obtain further information. It is also more difficult to establish whether any allegations are credible and have been made in good faith.
Concerns against director
If a concern is received, then this will be treated in the same way as any other concern. It will receive the same serious consideration.
The aim of this policy is to provide an internal mechanism for reporting, investigating and remedying any wrongdoing in the workplace. In most cases Staff should not find it necessary to alert anyone externally.
The law recognises that in some circumstances it may be appropriate for Staff to report their concerns to an external body. We strongly encourage you to seek advice before reporting a concern to anyone external. The independent whistleblowing charity, Public Concern at Work, operates a confidential helpline. They also have a list of prescribed regulators for reporting certain types of concern.
Whistleblowing concerns usually relate to the conduct of Staff, but they may sometimes relate to the actions of a third party, such as a service provider. The law allows Staff to raise a concern in good faith with a third party, where the member of staff reasonably believes it relates mainly to their actions or something that is legally their responsibility. However, Staff are encouraged to report such concerns internally first.
Investigation & outcome
Once a member of Staff has raised a concern, the Company will carry out an initial assessment to determine the scope of any investigation. The Company will inform the ‘whistle-blower’ of the outcome of its assessment. The member of staff raising the concern may be required to attend additional meetings in order to provide further information.
In rare cases the Company may appoint an investigator or team of investigators including Staff with relevant experience of investigations or specialist knowledge of the subject matter. The investigator(s) may make recommendations for change to enable the Company to minimise the risk of future wrongdoing.
The company will aim to keep the member of staff informed of the progress of the investigation and its likely timescale. However, sometimes the need for confidentiality may prevent the School from giving specific details of the investigation or any disciplinary action taken as a result. The member of staff is required to treat any information about the investigation as strictly confidential.
If the company concludes that a ‘whistle-blower’ has made false allegations maliciously, in bad faith or with a view to personal gain, the ‘whistle-blower’ will be subject to disciplinary action.
Whilst the Company cannot always guarantee the outcome a particular member of staff is seeking, the Company will try to deal with the concern fairly and in an appropriate way.
Protection and support
Staff must not threaten or retaliate against a ‘whistle-blower’ in any way. Anyone involved in such conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.
All Staff are responsible for the success of this policy and should ensure that they use it to disclose any suspected danger or wrongdoing. Staff are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved. Comments, suggestions and queries should be addressed to the Director in the first instance.
This policy does not in any way remove Staff responsibilities regarding any Safeguarding Concerns.
How to raise a concern
- You should voice your concerns, suspicions or uneasiness as soon as you feel you can. The earlier a concern is expressed the easier and sooner action can be taken.
- Try to pinpoint exactly what practice is concerning you and why.
- Approach the Director, or the Designated Safeguarding Lead.
- You should then put your concerns in writing, outlining the background and history, giving names, dates and places where you can.
- A member of staff is not expected to prove the truth of an allegation but will need to demonstrate sufficient grounds for the concern.
What happens next?
You should be given information on the nature and progress of any enquiries. Your employer has a responsibility to protect you from harassment or victimisation.
No action will be taken against you if the concern proves to be unfounded and was raised in good faith.
Allegations made frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain will be seen in a different light and disciplinary action may be taken.
There may be occasions where a member of staff has a personal difficulty, or perhaps a physical or mental health problem, which they know to be impinging on their professional competence.
Staff have a responsibility to discuss such a situation with Management so professional and personal support can be offered to the member of staff concerned. Whilst such reporting will remain confidential in most situations, this cannot be guaranteed where personal difficulties raise concerns about the welfare or safety of children.