1.1 A Definition of Whistle-Blowing
(a) The official name for whistle-blowing is ‘Making a Disclosure in the Public Interest’, however it is more commonly called ‘Whistle-blowing’. It means that if an employee discovers information in the work place relating to perceived malpractice or wrongdoing, they can disclose the information to their employer or a prescribed person and their employment rights will be protected, provided they follow the correct procedures.
1.2 The Legal Position
(a) The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 gives legal protection to workers against being dismissed by their employers or suffering detriment as a result of disclosing information relating to perceived malpractice or wrongdoing.
(b) Under the Act a protected disclosure means a qualifying disclosure which is made by a worker.
(c) A ‘qualifying disclosure’ means any disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker making the disclosure, indicates that one or more of the following has happened, is happening or is likely to happen:
(i) a criminal offence;
(ii) a failure to comply with any legal obligation;
(iii) a miscarriage of justice;
(iv) danger to the health and safety of any individual(s);
(v) danger to the environment;
(vi) deliberate concealment of any of the above.
(d) The worker making a disclosure must have reasonable belief that the information discovered indicates a breach or offence listed above. It is immaterial whether the belief is correct so long as the worker can show that the belief was held and that it was a reasonable belief at the time of disclosure.
1.3 Making a Disclosure to Your Employer or Another Responsible Person
(a) If employees discover information in the work place relating to perceived malpractice or wrongdoing they are encouraged to report this information to their employer.
(b) A qualifying disclosure will be made where the employee makes the disclosure in good faith:
(i) to their employer; or
(ii) to another person who the employee believes to be responsible for the malpractice or wrongdoing; or
(iii) in accordance with a procedure authorised by their employer.
1.4 Making a Qualifying Disclosure to Prescribed Persons
(a) Employees can make a qualifying disclosure relating to malpractice or wrongdoing to a person who has been prescribed by the Secretary of State for the purposes of receiving disclosures.
(b) In order to be protected the employee must:
(i) make the disclosure in good faith;
(ii) reasonably believe;
(A) that the information disclosed and any allegation made is substantially true; and
(B) that the malpractice or wrongdoing falls within any description of matters in respect of which that person is prescribed.
(c) For example, breaches of health and safety regulations can be brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the appropriate local authority or breaches of obligations in relation to financial services can be reported to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). For a full list of prescribed bodies please refer to The Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons)(Amendment) Order 2003.
1.5 Making a Qualified Disclosure in Other Cases
(a) Wider disclosures can also be made, for example to the police or to non-prescribed regulators such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Employees will be protected if they make a qualifying disclosure and they:
(i) make it in good faith;
(ii) reasonably believe that the information they disclose is substantially true;
(iii) do not make the disclosure for purposes of personal gain.
(b) The disclosure should also meet one or more of the following conditions:
(i) the employee believes that they will be subjected to detriment;
(ii) there is no prescribed person in relation to the matter and the employee believes evidence will be concealed or destroyed if it is reported to the employer;
(iii) the employee has previously disclosed the information to the employer.
1.6 Spencer Ogden’s Policy
(a) Spencer Ogden Group values its reputation for ethical behaviour and recognises that an important aspect of accountability and transparency is a procedure to allow employees to voice in a responsible and effective way, information which they believe indicates malpractice or wrongdoing.
(b) Accountability goes to the heart of Spencer Ogden Group values and we will ensure that no members of staff will be disadvantaged for disclosing information which they believe shows malpractice or wrongdoing. All disclosures will be treated consistently and fairly. The Company’s whistle-blowing policy is fundamental to the organisation’s integrity.
(b) It should be emphasised that this policy is intended to assist employees who believe
they have discovered malpractice or wrongdoing. It is not designed to question
financial or business decisions taken by the Company nor should it be used to
reconsider any matters which have already been addressed under harassment,
complaint, grievance, disciplinary or other procedures.
1.7 Who Does This Policy Apply To?
(a) This policy applies to everyone who carries out work for the Spencer Ogden Ltd, including:
(i) The owner;
(ii) all employees;
(iii) contractors and sub-contractors;
(v) consultants; and
(vi) work experience or other trainees.
1.8 Procedures for Making a Qualified Disclosure
(a) Staff should report any information relating to perceived malpractice or wrong doing to Human Resources if that is not suitable then staff should report any information to the Legal Department.
(b) If the information relates to the Human Resources then the employee should report to the information to the Legal Department who will then decide whether the information needs to be disclosed externally.
(c) If neither option (a) nor (b) are suitable then the employee may consider making a disclosure to a prescribed person (see above) or a wider disclosure may be made to the Police or to non-prescribed regulators.
(d) Should you wish to make a disclosure to an independent whistleblowing service, you can contact our Safecall our Whistleblowing hotline provider. The Safecall service is available 24/7 365 days via the number below and allows you to speak to someone in your preferred language (see list below for international freephone numbers) Alternatively Safecall can be contacted via the web at www.safecall.co.uk/report.
(e) If employees have any concerns in relation to either Money Laundering or Bribery,
these concerns should be referred directly to the Legal Department.
(f) Employees are permitted to report any information to the designated person within the Company in any form i.e. verbal, letter, email etc.
(g) Anonymous calls or letters will be taken seriously and investigated fully, however employees should be mindful that the effectiveness of the enquiry may be limited where an individual chooses not to be identified.
(h) The Company will seek to ensure that the identity of a whistle-blower is protected in so far as procedures allow, the organisation cannot guarantee anonymity if external legal action results from the disclosure.
1.9 Outcomes After Reporting a Concern
(a) There will be no adverse consequences for any employee who reports a concern in good faith. However, any individual found responsible for making allegations maliciously or in bad faith may be subject to disciplinary action.
(b) The following action may be taken following an investigation into the disclosure:
(i) disciplinary action (including dismissal) against the wrongdoer;
(ii) disciplinary action (including dismissal) against the whistle-blower where they are found to have acted in bad faith; no action if the allegation proves unfounded.
Appendix 1: Safecall International Freephone Numbers
USA: 1 866 901 3295
Germany: 00 800 7233 2255
UK: 0800 915 1571
Hong Kong: 3077 5524
Singapore: 800 448 1773
Australia: 1800 312 928