All employees have an obligation to work in the interests of the organisation. However in pursuing these interests it is our intention that they, and the organisation, respect the public interest as interpreted by the various regulatory bodies in the UK.
The policy covers only the public interest. Complaints about your own employment contract must be raised under the Grievance Procedure.
If you have reason to believe that the organisation is not respecting the public interest then you should use the procedure set out here. So long as you follow both parts precisely, you will not suffer any detriment as a result and your employment will be protected. We encourage you to use the procedure if you are concerned about any wrong doing at work.
However, if you fail to follow the procedure (by taking your concerns to the press for example) you may be committing an act of Gross Misconduct and be liable to summary dismissal.
Also, if the procedure has not been invoked in the reasonable belief that the disclosure is in the public interest (eg for malicious reasons or in pursuit of a personal grudge), then you may be committing an act of Gross Misconduct or misconduct and be liable to summary dismissal, or such lesser disciplinary sanction as may be appropriate in the circumstances.
You will appreciate that this is a complex area of legislation and you may wish to seek legal advice before making a disclosure. Disclosure of a relevant failure (see below) qualifies for protection if it is made in the course of obtaining legal advice.
Part 1 – Qualifying disclosures and relevant failures
Only certain disclosures are prescribed by law as ‘qualifying disclosures’. These disclosures are protected if in your reasonable belief such disclosures are in the public interest. While a wide range of public interests are covered you are only protected where the act, about which you are concerned, falls within the range of qualifying disclosures summarised here. Disclosures are qualifying disclosures when made to an appropriate person and where it can be shown that the company commits a ‘relevant failure’ by:
- committing a criminal offence
- failing to comply with a legal obligation
- a miscarriage of justice
- endangering the health and safety of an individual
- environmental damage
- concealing any information relating to the above.
These acts can be in the past, present or future, so that, for example, a disclosure qualifies if it relates to environmental damage that has happened, is happening, or is likely to happen.
Part 2 – Steps you should take
If you so wish you should in the first instance report any concerns you may have to your line manager in writing who will treat the matter with complete confidence. You will receive a response in writing. If you are not satisfied with the explanation or reason given to you, you should raise the matter with the appropriate organisation or body. The bodies (“prescribed persons”) are set out in legislation.
If you have good reason to believe that you would suffer detriment by reporting your concerns to your line manager then you should report them to a member of the Senior Management team.
If you have good reason to believe that you would suffer detriment by reporting your concerns to the Managing Director then you may take them direct to the appropriate organisation or body.
Part 3 – Protection from harassment
We will not tolerate harassment or bullying of “whistle-blowers” by their colleagues or others in the organisation. Such behaviour will be subject to action under the disciplinary procedure.