Whistleblowing Policy

WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY 2020 

To be reviewed: January 2021 

This policy sets out the steps  Media Cubs has taken to ensure that all members of the team – staff, sessional workers, freelancers and volunteers – comply with the Government’s Whistleblower guidelines and observe our commitment to promoting a transparent workplace where all members of the team feel safe to report concerns.

Introduction 

What is a whistleblower?

You’re a whistleblower if you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing. This will usually be something you’ve seen at work – though not always.

The wrongdoing you disclose must be in the public interest. This means it must affect others, for example the general public.

As a whistleblower you’re protected by law – you should not be treated unfairly or lose your job because you ‘blow the whistle’.

You can raise your concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or you believe will happen in the near future.

Who is protected by law?

You’re protected if you’re a worker, for example you’re:

  • an employee, such as a police officer, NHS employee, office worker, factory worker
  • a trainee, such as a student nurse
  • an agency worker
  • a member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Get independent advice if you’re not sure you’re protected, for example from Citizens’ Advice.

A confidentiality clause or ‘gagging clause’ in a settlement agreement is not valid if you’re a whistleblower.

Complaints that count as whistleblowing

You’re protected by law if you report any of the following:

  • a criminal offence, for example fraud
  • someone’s health and safety is in danger
  • risk or actual damage to the environment
  • a miscarriage of justice
  • the company is breaking the law, for example does not have the right insurance
  • you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

Complaints that do not count as whistleblowing

Personal grievances (for example bullying, harassment, discrimination) are not covered by whistleblowing law, unless your particular case is in the public interest. These should be taken up using Media Cubs’ grievance policy. 

Principles

  1. Protection – this policy is designed to offer protection to those employees of Media Cubs who disclose such concerns provided the disclosure is made:
  • in good faith 
  • in the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure that it tends to show malpractice or impropriety and if they make the disclosure to an appropriate person (see below). It is important to note that no protection from internal disciplinary procedures is offered to those who choose not to use the procedure. In an extreme case, malicious or wild allegations could give rise to legal action on the part of the persons complained about. 
  1. Confidentiality – Media Cubs will treat all such disclosures in a confidential and sensitive manner. The identity of the individual making the allegation may be kept confidential so long as it does not hinder or frustrate any investigation. However, the investigation process may reveal the source of the information and the individual making the disclosure may need to provide a statement as part of the evidence required.
  2. Anonymous Allegations – this policy encourages individuals to put their name to any disclosures they make. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less credible, but they may be considered at the discretion of the Company. In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account will include:
  • The seriousness of the issues raised 
  • The credibility of the concern 
  • The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources 
  1. Untrue Allegations – If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not confirmed by subsequent investigation, no action will be taken against that individual. In making a disclosure the individual should exercise due care to ensure the accuracy of the information. If, however, an individual makes malicious or vexatious allegations, and particularly if he or she persists with making them, disciplinary action may be taken against that individual.

Procedures for Making a Disclosure 

  1. On receipt of a complaint of malpractice, the member of staff who receives and takes note of the complaint, must pass this information as soon as is reasonably possible, to the appropriate designated investigating officer as follows:
  • Complaints of malpractice will be investigated by the appropriate Director unless the complaint is against the Director or is in any way related to the actions of the Director. In such cases, the complaint should be passed to the Chief Executive / Business Owner for referral. 
  • In the case of a complaint, which is any way connected with but not against the Director, the Chief Executive / Business Owner will nominate a Senior Manager or external party to act as the alternative investigating officer. 
  • Complaints against the Chief Executive / Business Owner should be passed to the Chairman who will nominate an appropriate internal / external investigating officer. 
  • The complainant has the right to bypass the line management structure and take their complaint direct to the Chairman (or Business Owner). The Chairman (or Business Owner) has the right to refer the complaint back to management if he/she feels that the management without any conflict of interest can more appropriately investigate the complaint. 
  1. If there is evidence of criminal activity then the investigating officer should inform the police. The Company will ensure that any internal investigation does not hinder a formal police investigation.

Timescales

  1. Due to the varied nature of these sorts of complaints, which may involve internal / external investigators and / or the police, it is not possible to lay down precise timescales for such investigations. The investigating officer should ensure that the investigations are undertaken as quickly as possible without affecting the quality and depth of those investigations.
  2. The investigating officer, should as soon as practically possible, send a written acknowledgement of the concern to the complainant and thereafter report back to them in writing the outcome of the investigation and on the action that is proposed. If the investigation is a prolonged one, the investigating officer should keep the complainant informed, in writing, as to the progress of the investigation and as to when it is likely to be concluded.
  3. All responses to the complainant should be in writing and sent to their home address marked “confidential”.

Investigating Procedure 

  1. The investigating officer should follow these steps:
  • Full details and clarifications of the complaint should be obtained. 
  • The investigating officer should inform the member of staff against whom the complaint is made as soon as is practically possible. The member of staff will be informed of their right to be accompanied by a trade union or work colleague at any future interview or hearing held under the provision of these procedures. At the discretion of the investigating officer and dependant on the circumstances of the complaint an alternative representative may be allowed e.g. the individual’s legal representative.
  • The investigating officer should consider the involvement of the Company auditors and the Police at this stage and should consult with the Chairman / Chief Executive / Business Owner if appropriate
  • The allegations should be fully investigated by the investigating officer with the assistance where appropriate, of other individuals / bodies. 
  • A judgement concerning the complaint and validity of the complaint will be made by the investigating officer. This judgement will be detailed in a written report containing the findings of the investigations and reasons for the judgement. The report will be passed to the Chief Executive, Chairman or Business Owner as appropriate. 
  • The Chief Executive / Chairman / Business Owner will decide what action to take. If the complaint is shown to be justified, then they will invoke the disciplinary or other appropriate Company procedures. 
  • The complainant should be kept informed of the progress of the investigations and, if appropriate, of the final outcome. 
  • If appropriate, a copy of the outcomes will be used to enable a review of Company procedures. 
  1. If the complainant is not satisfied that their concern is being properly dealt with by the investigating officer, they have the right to raise it in confidence with the Chief Executive / Business Owner / Chairman, or one of the designated persons described above.
  2. If the investigation finds the allegations unsubstantiated and all internal procedures have been exhausted, but the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, Media Cubs recognises the lawful rights of employees and ex-employees to make disclosures to prescribed persons or body (e.g. the Health and Safety Executive). A full list of prescribed people and bodies can be found on the Government Website (www.gov.uk).