The purpose of this policy and procedure is to outline ways in which all 1st2 Achieve Training employees can express concerns about malpractice/wrongdoing and to
encourage employees to raise these at an early stage and in an appropriate
way in line with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
1st2 Achieve Training is committed to managing the organisation in the best way
possible. This policy is in place to reassure staff that it is safe and acceptable
to speak up and enable concerns to be raised at an early stage and in the right
way. Rather than wait for proof, we would prefer you to raise the matter when
it is still a concern.
It can be difficult to know what to do when these concerns are about unlawful conduct, financial irregularities, abuse of patients, dangers to the public or environment, health and safety issues, or if you feel these issues are being inappropriately concealed.
This policy is to be applied consistently and in line with 1st2 Achieve Training values.
This policy does not apply to complaints about employment or how you have
been treated. For cases such as this, the Harassment and Bullying Policy should be used. There is also a range of policies and procedures that cover issues such as fraud and corruption, recruitment/selection, health and safety and staff are advised to refer to these when considering a disclosure under this policy.
Whistleblowing is a term used when an individual discloses information relating to suspected malpractice or wrongdoing and/or the covering up of suspected malpractice or wrongdoing. The suspected malpractice or wrongdoing could be committed by a Learner, Employer, or Employee of 1st2 Achieve Training, although this is not always the case.
Whistleblowing is distinct from both complaints and employment disputes.
Complaints: an expression of personal dissatisfaction. Examples of complaints that we will normally investigate can be found in our Complaints Policy for conducting enquiries into complaints about dissatisfaction with a member of the 1st2 Achieve team or the service we provide.
An individual may decide to make a whistleblowing disclosure to us to prevent harm or to hold an organisation to account.
THE CONTENT OF DISCLOSURE
Disclosing a genuine concern which, in your honest, reasonable belief, is in the public interest and suggests that wrongdoing has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed, could qualify for protection under PIDA. Wrongdoing includes (but is not limited to):
A criminal offence that has been, is being, or is likely to be committed
A person who has failed, is failing, or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation
A miscarriage of justice that has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur
The health and safety of an individual which has been, is being, or is likely to be endangered
The environment has been, is being, or is likely to be damaged, or
Information relating to any of the above that has been, or is likely to be, deliberately concealed.
Our policy additionally covers any conduct not included above which appears likely to, or may cause harm to, the reputation of 1st2 Achieve Training.
With these assurances, we hope you will raise your concern openly. However, we recognise that there may be circumstances when you would prefer to speak to someone in confidence first. If this is the case, please say so at the outset. If you do not to wish to disclose your identity, this will not be done without your consent unless required by law. You should understand that there may be times when we are unable to resolve a concern without revealing your identity, for example, when your personal evidence is essential (for example, in court cases). In such cases, we will discuss with you whether and how the matter can best proceed.
Please remember that if you do not tell us who you are, it will be much more difficult to look into the matter. We will not be able to protect your position or give feedback.
Accordingly, you should not assume we can provide the assurances we offer in the same way if you report a concern anonymously. Where an individual does not wish to come forward as a witness, 1st2 Achieve Training retains the right to pursue the matter further but will respect the anonymity of the individual. However, it must be noted that this may ultimately prevent 1st2 Achieve Training from being able to proceed. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful but will be considered at the discretion of 1st2 Achieve Training.
In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account would include:
The seriousness of the issues raised.
The credibility of the concern.
The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources.
The procedures contained below should ensure that your concern can be addressed and dealt with internally, however, if you believe that a disclosure of information should be made externally in the public interest, this should be soundly based and you should first seek independent and/or specialist advice.
What Should You Do If You Have a Concern About Malpractice or Wrongdoing?
Whistleblowing disclosures can be made confidentially in one of the following ways:
By email to the Head of Compliance, Curriculum & Quality, Michelle Edwards, firstname.lastname@example.org
Through calling the apprenticeship team on 01695 557705 between the hours of 8.30am and 5.00pm (UK time) Monday to Friday
Or by post to: Head of Compliance, Curriculum & Quality, 1st2 Achieve Training, 4 Paddock Road, Skelmersdale, WN8 9PL.
Once you have reported your concern, we will assess it and consider what action may be appropriate. This may involve an informal review, an internal inquiry, or a more formal investigation. We will tell you who will be handling the matter, how you can contact them and what further assistance we may need from you.
When you raise the concern, it will be helpful to know how you think the matter might best be resolved. If you have any personal interest in the matter, we do ask that you tell us at the outset. If we think your concern falls more properly within our grievance, harassment and bullying or other relevant procedure, we will inform you accordingly. (see Appendix 1 for a checklist to help you formulate your complaint).
The following stages will normally apply (see Appendix 2 for summary flowchart):
If you have a concern about a risk, malpractice, or wrongdoing at work, we hope you will feel able to raise it firstly with your line manager or SMT if the concern is about the line manager. This may be done verbally or in writing.
You may involve a friend or a colleague at this stage, providing that that person is not involved in the investigation. Managers must help to create a climate where staff feel able to talk in confidence without the threat of disciplinary action being taken against them. The manager will identify the nature of the issue by undertaking a preliminary investigation.
If stage 1 of the investigation and any resultant action does not resolve the matter, or if a concern involves the immediate line manager, the member of staff should raise the concerns with our independent HR Consultancy Firm, Bright HR, who will refer the case to a designated officer, who will be the point of contact for employees under this policy.
Where concerns are raised with the designated officer, they will arrange an initial interview which will, if requested, be confidential to ascertain the areas of concern. At this stage, you will be asked whether you wish your identity to be disclosed and will be reassured about protection from possible victimisation. You will also be asked if you wish to make a written statement. In either case, the designated officer will write a brief summary of the interview, which will be agreed by both parties.
The designated officer will report to the Director or Head of Compliance, Curriculum & Quality, who will be responsible for the commission of any further investigation within 1st2 Achieve Training.
THE FORMAL INVESTIGATION
If the concern raised is very serious or complex, a formal investigation may be held. The investigation may need to be carried out under the terms of strict confidentiality, i.e., by not informing the subject of the complaint until it becomes necessary to do so. In certain cases, however, such as allegations of ill-treatment of apprentices, suspension from work may have to be considered immediately. The protection of apprentices is paramount in all cases. The designated officer will offer to keep the member of staff informed about the investigation and its outcome.
If the result of the investigation is that there is a case to be answered by any individual, 1st2 Achieve Training’s Disciplinary Policy will be used and the details discovered by the formal investigation, transferred to that process.
Where there is no case to answer, but the employee held a genuine concern and was not acting maliciously, the designated officer will ensure that the employee suffers no reprisals.
If there is no case to answer but there is evidence that the allegation was made frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain, disciplinary action will be taken against the complainant.
The matter will be dealt with promptly at each stage. Where appropriate, immediate steps will be taken to remedy the situation as soon as practicably possible. A final outcome may take more time but a final resolution/outcome at each stage should be available within ten working days.
Following the investigation:
The Director or Head of Compliance, Curriculum & Quality will advise the designated officer as to the possible options open to 1st2 Achieve Training as a result of the outcome of the investigation. The designated officer will then arrange a meeting with the member of staff (where the identity has been disclosed) to give feedback on any action taken. (This will not include details of any disciplinary action, which will remain confidential to the individual concerned).
The feedback will be provided as soon as possible. If the member of staff is not satisfied with the action taken/not taken, 1st2 Achieve Training recognises the lawful rights of employees and ex-employees to make disclosures to prescribed persons (such as the Health & Safety Executive, the ESFA, Ofsted, etc.).
RAISING CONCERNS WITH OUTSIDE BODIES
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that staff are aware of the way to raise their concerns in-house and for staff to see that action is taken promptly to remedy a particular situation. It is hoped that this procedure will give 1st2 Achieve Training’s staff the confidence to raise concerns internally.
However, it is recognised that there may be circumstances where staff may feel they wish to report matters to outside bodies such as the Police, the Secretary of Education or, if the concern is about fraud and corruption, the ESFA hotline.
A full list of persons/bodies can be found in The Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 1999 which sets out the full prescribed persons list and a description of the matters to which issues of concern could be referred. An extract from the Order can be obtained from the Director of Communications.
If members of staff are contemplating making a wider disclosure, they are strongly advised to first seek further specialist guidance from professional or other representative bodies.
1st2 Achieve Training also recognises that staff may, after taking account of advice, wish to continue to raise their concerns using other avenues. These might include MPs or the Media. Staff should bear in mind that this action, if done unjustifiably could result in disciplinary action and could undermine public confidence in the service.
However, disclosure may attract statutory protection from victimisation/other detriment where all of the following apply:
They have an honest and reasonable suspicion that the malpractice or maladministration/wrongdoing has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur.
They honestly and reasonably believe that the information and any allegation contained in it are substantially true.
The disclosure has not been made for personal gain.
The concern has been raised with 1st2 Achieve Training or a prescribed regulator (unless there was reasonable belief of victimisation, there was no prescribed regulator and there was reasonable belief there would be a cover up).
The matter was exceptionally serious.
There are no mandatory training requirements associated with this Policy.
The policy has been approved by the Senior Leadership Team and the 1ST2 Achieve Training Quality & Standards Board.
The policy will be reviewed on an annual basis unless circumstances arise requiring the policy to be reviewed earlier.
Board signatory: T Cartwright