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21) Does your organisation provide a confidential method (also known as a whistleblowing procedure) for employees and contract staff to freely report any perceived issues that might impact your clients or their customers?

July 30, 2023
Procurement Risk

Answer yes if your organisation has a defined and documented procedure that enables employees and contract staff to report any incidents or perceived issues confidentially. This is typically provided through a confidential phoneline or email address. Please outline the process in the notes section provided, or upload a policy or process document (as a PDF file) as evidence.

Whistleblowing is the term used when a worker passes on information concerning wrongdoing. This is also called “making a disclosure” or “blowing the whistle”. The wrongdoing will typically (although not necessarily) be something they have witnessed at work.

To be covered by whistleblowing law, a worker who makes a disclosure must reasonably believe two things. The first is that they are acting in the public interest. This means in particular that personal grievances and complaints are not usually covered by whistleblowing law.

The second thing that a worker must reasonably believe is 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;
  • miscarriages of justice;
  • endangering of someone’s health and safety;
  • damage to the environment;
  • covering up wrongdoing in the above categories.

Whistleblowing law is located in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998). It provides the right for a worker to take a case to an employment tribunal if they have been victimised at work or they have lost their job because they have ‘blown the whistle’.

As an employer it is good practice to create an open, transparent and safe working environment where workers feel able to speak up. Although the law does not require employers to have a whistleblowing policy in place, the existence of a whistleblowing policy shows an employer’s commitment to listen to the concerns of workers. By having clear policies and procedures for dealing with whistleblowing, an organisation demonstrates that it welcomes information being brought to the attention of management.

How to implement the control

A Whistleblowing policy or process should outline the ways in which an employee can anonymously disclose a wrongdoing. This can be through an external service such as an anonymous hotline, or through a method such as an anonymous mailbox.

The process should also cover how disclosures are investigated and followed-up on.

There is plenty of advice on the internet for creating a Whistleblowing policy and process. If you have complex requirements you can also ask for advice from counsel or an HR consultant who will be able to help.

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