Whistleblowing Policy

Introduction

All organisations face the risk of things going wrong or of unknowingly harbouring malpractice. Motivated Minds have a duty to identify and take measures to remedy all malpractice particularly with regard to issues of fraud and corruption.

  • By encouraging a culture of openness within our organisation we believe that we can prevent malpractice before it happens.
  • By promoting a culture of openness we want to encourage you to raise issues which concern you at work. We recognise, however, that you may be worried that by reporting such issues you will be opening yourself up to victimisation, detriment or risking your job security. Such fears are understandable, this policy is therefore designed provide you with information about the protections offered by us as well as the process by which you may raise your concerns.
  • By knowing about malpractice at an early stage we stand a good chance of taking the necessary steps to safeguard the interests of all staff, protect our organisation and stop fraud and corruption before it happens.

In short, do not hesitate to ‘speak up’ or ‘blow the whistle’ on malpractice.

Purpose

To prevent malpractice by the organisation, its employees, agents and partners by advising staff how to raise concerns with the organisation’s management or, if necessary, with its partners and advising them of the protection offered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (‘PIDA’).

Definitions

‘Fraud’: for the purpose of this policy refers to where an individual has undertaken, or intends to undertake, actions in order to obtain gain for him/herself or another, or cause loss to another, or expose another to risk of loss.

The term ‘fraud’ encompasses:

  • Fraud by false representation;
  • Fraud by failing to disclose information;
  • Fraud by abuse of position. Descriptions of the above can be found within the Fraud Act 2006.

‘Corruption’ for the purpose of this policy refers to an individual who has given or obtained advantage through means which are illegitimate, immoral, and/or inconsistent with their duty to the ICO or the rights of others. Examples include accepting bribes or incentives during procurement processes, seeking to influence others.

‘Malpractice’ for the purpose of this policy refers to actions which may be:

  • illegal, improper, or unethical;
  • in breach of a professional code;
  • possible maladministration, fraud or misuse of public funds; or
  • acts which are otherwise inconsistent with the expectations of Motivated Minds.

The management of Motivated Minds is committed to this policy. If the policy is used to raise a concern in good faith we give you our assurance that you will not suffer any form of retribution, victimisation or detriment as a result of your actions. In addition, the PIDA may provide you with legal protection in relation to your disclosures if you raise your concerns in accordance with that Act.

Concerns will be treated seriously and actions taken in accordance with this policy. If you ask us to treat the matter in confidence we will do our utmost to respect your request. However, it is not possible to guarantee confidentiality. If we are in a position where we cannot maintain confidentiality and so have to make disclosures we will discuss the matter with you first. We will give you feedback on any investigation and be sensitive to any concerns you may have as a result of any steps taken under this procedure.

In some circumstances Motivated Minds may decide that we ought to reveal your identity in order to assist in the investigation into the matter. You will be advised beforehand if this is the case.

Remember, if you do not tell us who you are it will be much more difficult for us to look into the matter, to protect your position or to give you feedback. Accordingly, while we will consider anonymous reports, this procedure is not appropriate for concerns raised anonymously.

Procedure

If you are concerned about any form of malpractice you should normally first raise the issue with your line manager. There is no special procedure for doing this - simply tell them about the problem or put it in writing if you prefer. At whatever level you raise the issue, you should declare whether you have a personal interest in the issue at the outset. If your concern falls more properly within the grievance procedure your manager will tell you.

If you feel unable to tell your line manager, for whatever reason, you should raise the issue with the next tier of management. If you feel that you cannot disclose to the next tier of management, because you believe that the individual may be implicated in the malpractice, you should raise the matter in confidence with one of the Senior Leadership Team. The Senior Leadership Team is entrusted with the duty of investigating staff concerns about illegal, improper or unethical behaviour. You should also approach one of the Senior Leadership Team to draw attention to cases where there is evidence of irregular or improper behaviour elsewhere in the organisation, but where you have not been personally involved, or if you are required to act in a way which, for you, raises a fundamental issue of conscience.

Responding to whistleblowing

After you have raised your concern we will decide how to respond in a responsible and appropriate manner. Usually this will involve making internal enquiries first but it may be necessary to carry out an investigation at a later stage which may be formal or informal depending on the nature of the concern raised.

If you have raised a concern we will, as far as possible, keep you informed of the decisions taken and the outcome of any enquiries and investigations carried out. However, we will not be able to inform you of any matters which would infringe our duty of confidentiality to others.

Raising your concern externally (exceptional cases) In all but the most exceptional of circumstances concerns about malpractice should be raised internally. The purpose of this policy is to give you the opportunity and protection you need to raise your concerns internally without reporting the concern to external bodies. It is, therefore, expected that raising concerns internally will be the most appropriate action to be taken in almost all cases and so you must try to do so.

If, however, you feel you cannot raise your concerns internally the PIDA may afford you protection in relation to your disclosure but only if you are acting in good faith and if you honestly and reasonably believe that your allegations are true. In such circumstances you may consider raising the matter with the police or the appropriate regulator e.g. Health and Safety Executive, Environmental Health Department etc. If you do take this route to whistleblow an issue you may be required to demonstrate why you thought the normal internal procedure was not appropriate.

You are strongly recommended to take advice before following this course of action though, as the PIDA only affords protection to whistle blowers in certain circumstances.

Malicious Whistleblowing

If you are found to have made allegations maliciously and/or not in good faith, a disciplinary process may be instigated against you. This may result in your dismissal from Motivated Minds.

It is important to note that as long as you have raised a concern in good faith, you will not be subject to disciplinary action even if the investigation finds your allegations to be unproven.