RAISING SERIOUS CONCERNS - WHISTLEBLOWING (Public Interest Disclosure)
The University’s framework of policies and procedures support our culture of openness, transparency, accountability and risk awareness. Our success depends on us all upholding the ethical standards set out in the Code of Ethics and working together to take responsibility for ensuring business is conducted in a responsible way, meeting the requirements of funding bodies and the Office for Students. If you see that something is wrong, we want to support you in telling us. This may seem a big step but we can help you - turning this moment of decision into a personal moment that matters: IF YOU SPEAK OUT, WE WILL LISTEN.
2. WHAT THE UNIVERSITY WILL DO
For any concern raised, we will:
- promote a culture where you can feel safe in raising a genuine concern;
- act promptly, sensitively, fairly and professionally;
- protect you (and your family) from direct, indirect or “soft” retaliation because you have made a disclosure (for example, loss of status or opportunity for advancement, or being treated as a troublemaker);
- protect any contractor or supplier of the University who raises a concern from sanctions or discrimination against their business;
- react swiftly to any evidence of retaliation, including making use of the disciplinary procedures applicable to staff and students;
- keep our process as simple and supportive as possible;
- continue to enhance our environment so that you feel confident that well-intentioned disclosures are welcomed and that we are working together to achieve openness and integrity in all our activities.
3. WHAT IS WHISTLEBLOWING?
Whistleblowing, under the legal framework, applies to a worker who discloses wrongdoing by their employer or other employees but this internal Whistleblowing procedure can be used for any incident when you – whatever your connection with the University - pass on information to us concerning wrongdoing. The wrongdoing is usually something that you have witnessed. If you have concerns about some perceived danger, damage to the environment, fraud, improper financial conduct, or other illegal or unethical conduct by the University, you can make a disclosure, which means sharing information with us on the potential wrongdoing. The wrongdoing you disclose must be in the public interest, meaning the reported activity has to be one that will affect other people; this does not include personal grievances. 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 future. Your eyes and ears are our safeguard that all our practices are working properly. So, make your concern known – SPEAK OUT – if anything seems wrong.
4. HOW TO RAISE A WHISTLEBLOWING CONCERN
If you discover wrongdoing, you should tell the University promptly.
There are informal systems to bring any issues to the attention of management. You should consider raising a concern with a line manager, Personal Tutor, Head of Department, or senior manager such as Head of Procurement.
If you are not sure who to tell, email email@example.com.
This internal Whistleblowing procedure is in addition to our existing policies and procedures (see Note 1). It is the procedure to use for perceived illegal, improper or unethical conduct connected to the University. But don’t worry if you are not sure which policy your concern would come under, where you discover or are concerned about any wrongdoing, report it and we will make sure it is handled in the most appropriate way.
You can contact us in the way that is best for you. Information on how to contact the designated officer is below. The Director of Finance is the primary contact or, if you prefer to contact an independent person, the University’s Senior Independent Director. You can use our online form or our new dedicated email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is helpful to us if you provide as much supporting evidence as possible when making a disclosure. It should include the names of individuals and significant dates, locations and events, where applicable. If you choose to make the disclosure in person, you may be accompanied by someone who will support you. The University will treat all disclosures in a confidential and sensitive manner.
We want to build a culture in which everyone feels confident to raise a concern. Consequently, if you make a disclosure, we encourage you to identify yourself. We will consider concerns expressed anonymously but we may not be able to take the matter further. A decision on whether to investigate will take into account: the seriousness of the issues raised; the credibility of the information disclosed; any prejudice to those named; and the likelihood of confirming the allegation from alternative verifiable sources. If you give your name but request confidentiality, we will make every effort to protect your identity.
If your concern and any allegation you make in accordance with this procedure is not confirmed by a subsequent investigation, you don’t need to worry as no action will be taken against you. The University will protect you, your family and any person supporting you from detriment. Only if we believe on reasonable grounds that you are making a malicious or vexatious allegation will we take action.
The designated person to whom you make the disclosure will:
Acknowledge receipt of the disclosure and arrange to contact you to discuss your concern; Consult as appropriate and will then determine (a) whether there is a case for formal investigation and (b) if so, what form it should take.
Where the matter is to be the subject of a formal investigation, the designated officer may ask the Head of Internal Audit or other appropriate individual to conduct an investigation to establish all the relevant facts. At all time, confidentiality will mean that information is shared only those who need to know.
Any investigation will be conducted as sensitively and speedily as possible. We will try to keep you informed of the intended timetable and may ask you for a statement. The findings of the investigation and any recommendations will be set out in a written report to the designated officer who will decide what action to take. The person(s) about whom the disclosure is made will normally be told of it and of the evidence supporting it and will be given the opportunity to respond. They will not be told your name. The designated officer will let you know as fully as possible what action, if any, is to be taken. Information must be regarded as strictly confidential and may not be disclosed to anyone else except with the express consent of the designated officer.
Where it is determined that there is no case to answer or an investigation does not result in action being taken and you are unhappy with this outcome, you may submit a written request to the Chair of Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) within 14 days to review the decision. If the Chair of ARAC has already been involved as a designated officer, then the Chair of Council may nominate another lay member. The review of the Chair of ARAC will consider only whether due process was followed. If it is found that the process or outcome is not robust, the matter will be referred to the Vice-Chancellor or Chair of Council, where the Vice-Chancellor is the subject of the disclosure, for consideration and final determination.
An individual against whom action is proposed following an investigation under this whistleblowing procedure, and who wishes to appeal against such action, may submit an appeal, unless the staff or student disciplinary procedure is to be involved (which themselves provide for appeals). Any appeal must be submitted in writing within 14 days to the Director of Finance, with a copy to the Head of Governance, who will arrange for it to be heard by an appropriate senior member of staff.
The Audit and Risk Assurance Committee receives reports of Whistleblowing disclosures and investigations. It reports, via its Minutes, to Council. Council is committed to supporting a culture where concerns can be raised and will be treated seriously.
5. RAISING A CONCERN EXTERNALLY
If you are an employee or a worker and are considering reporting a concern, we hope you will use this internal Whistleblowing procedure. However, if you are contemplating making a disclosure directly to a regulator/prescribed person or other external body, please note that such external disclosures will need to be made to the correct prescribed person or body for the issue and may have additional requirements that will need to be met in order to qualify for the protections provided under the Public interest Disclosure Act.
6. HELP AND ADVICE
If you need any help or advice, there are a range of organisations that you can contact:
- Protect, an independent whistleblowing charity, which operates a confidential helpline;
- ACAS (Advice, Conciliation and Arbitration Service);
- Citizens Advice Bureau;
- EASS (Equality Advisory and Support Service); and
- Your Trades Union.
Note 1: Our policies and procedures: These are some of our policies and procedures which might address your concern:
- disciplinary procedures for academic staff (Statute 25)
- disciplinary policy and procedure for staff other than those academic staff and officers covered by Statute 25
- student disciplinary procedures (Regulations 7 and 8)
- student complaints procedures (Appendix 1 to the Regulations)
- procedures for student academic appeals and reviews (Regulation 17)
- staff grievance policy and procedure
- Dignity and Respect Policy
- procedures for reporting suspected fraud (Financial Regulations)
- Anti-Bribery Policy
- Anti-Criminal Finances Policy
- Health and Safety Policy
- Procedure for inquiring into allegations of misconduct in research and scholarship.
Note 2: The Designated Officer of the University may be contacted to raise a public interest disclosure.
There are various way in which you can make a disclosure:
Correspondence should be clearly addressed.
• Director of Finance, Mr Martin Williams (email: email@example.com), University of Bath BA2 7AY
• Head of Governance, Emily Commander (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), University of Bath BA2 7AY
• Senior Independent Director, Tim Ford (email: email@example.com ); or by post c/o Governance Office, University of Bath BA2 7AY and marked “For Forwarding without Opening” and “Strictly Private & Confidential”.
Where the Senior Independent Director is also Chair of Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) and has been previously involved in the case, the Chair of Council may designate another lay member of Council on ARAC to review the case.