Whistleblowing (procedure for raising concerns)
If you have any concerns regarding the ways in which you are required to act or have concerns regarding the behaviour of others (including illegal, improper or unethical acts), you can take confidential action to raise your concerns.
You will be protected from any detriment if:
- You raise a genuine concern in accordance with the procedures set out below, and
- Your concern is covered by one of the categories set out in the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) (external link) and you have an honest and reasonable belief that the behaviour in question is occurring or is likely to occur
If you feel you are unable to raise your concerns with a member of staff internally, you may also raise them with the Chair or designated member of your Governing Body if you are employed by or deployed to work in an Institute. If you work for BBSRC in Swindon or a hosted unit you may contact the Chair of the BBSRC Audit Board, who has been nominated as a confidential, external whistleblowing contact (see paragraph 8 below for further guidance).
2.1 You should not disclose confidential information or concerns relating to BBSRC or the establishment’s business or other employees without first raising them in accordance with the procedures set out in this policy.
2.2 A procedure already exists in the employment code for you to raise personal employment-related grievances - see section A12c). In addition, each establishment has published a code of conduct, prepared in line with the Nolan Report on Standards in Public Life, which sets out the standards of personal behaviour to which you must conform, and provides a route for raising complaints via the establishment governing body (or equivalent) about breaches of those standards – see appendix A12b:3. The procedure in this section complements but does not replace these existing procedures; you should use the procedures in this section when the others are not appropriate.
2.3 If you are in any doubt about the way in which you should raise your concern on a matter of public interest contact your local head of HR, Head of Operations or other manager designated for this purpose by the Director.
To be protected you need to make a 'qualifying disclosure' about alleged or actual malpractice. This could be a disclosure about:
- A criminal offence
- A failure to comply with a legal obligation
- A miscarriage of justice
- Endangering an individual’s health and safety
- Scientific misconduct
- Damage to the environment
- Deliberate concealment of information about any of the above
3.2 For your disclosure to be protected by the law you should make it to the right person and in the right way. You must:
- Make the disclosure in good faith (which means with honest intent and without malice)
- Reasonably believe that the information is substantially true
If you feel unable to raise your concerns internally you must also reasonably believe that you are making the disclosure to the right 'prescribed person' (see paragraph 8).
3.3 A protected disclosure is different to a grievance in that it will concern the conduct of another person in the workplace (whether or not that conduct affects the complainant personally) in circumstances where the complainant genuinely believes that the conduct in question amounts to a criminal offence, a breach of a legal obligation, or something likely to endanger health or safety or damage the environment.
A grievance will concern an employee personally, e.g. the individual may have a complaint about:
- his or her pay or working hours
- the amount of work that he or she is expected to do
- working conditions, or
- being bullied by fellow workers
|Examples of the difference between a grievance and a protected disclosure|
|An employee's complaint about the type of work that he or she is being asked to do, for example if it is not covered by his or her contract||A disclosure that an individual has been instructed to carry out actions that he or she genuinely believes to be illegal, e.g. to falsify tax returns|
|A employee's complaint that he or she has received insufficient safety training||A disclosure that safety rules within the workplace are routinely being flouted, thus endangering safety|
|An employee's complaint about the hours that he or she is expected to work||A disclosure that the requirements imposed by the company on a group of staff represent a breach of the working time legislation|
If you have a concern about wrong doing under any of the categories listed at paragraph 3 above, you can initially seek to resolve the matter informally and in confidence. You can request an interview with the employee's line manager (should this be inappropriate because the line manager is implicated in the matter, you can ask for an interview with a more senior manager) or with the local head of HR.
You will be able to set out your concerns and the reasons why they are a matter of public interest. The manager will consider whether there is substance in your concerns and if so how they can be resolved. We will not record informal concerns or make any reference to them on official files etc., including any action taken to address them.
5. Formal procedure
5.1 If you believe in good faith that the matter of concern is of a more serious nature, and/or that it cannot be or has not been resolved satisfactorily through the informal procedure, you can raise it formally (verbally or in writing) and in confidence with your line manager, a senior manager, and/or the Head of Operations (or equivalent). If your concern involves, or may involve, an individual employee it will be dealt with by a senior manager who is at least one pay band higher than the individual complained about.
5.2 Your line manager or the senior manager will meet with you as soon as possible to ascertain the details of your concern. A work colleague or trade union representative may accompany you at the meeting. You will be asked if you want to disclose your identity. If you do not wish to make a written statement the manager will write a brief summary of the meeting. They will give you an opportunity to comment on the note, which should be agreed by both parties.
5.3 It may be necessary for the manager to carry out an investigation and make an objective assessment of the concern. If the investigation reveals circumstances in which disciplinary action against individuals would be appropriate, the manager (in consultation with the local head of HR) will take the necessary procedural steps.
5.4 In some cases the manager may refer the matter to the Head of Operations or equivalent because the resolution of the concern does not rest within their authority (if the Head of Operations is implicated the manager will refer the matter to the Director).
5.5 The Head of Operations or equivalent will inform the Director of the case unless, for any reason, this is inappropriate due to the latter’s personal implication or involvement, in which case they will consult the Director of HR in BBSRC Office. The Head of Operations or equivalent will carry out an investigation. If this reveals circumstances in which disciplinary action against individuals would be appropriate, the Head of Operations/equivalent (in consultation with the Director and the Director of HR at BBSRC office) will take the necessary procedural steps.
5.6 You will be advised of progress and of the outcome of your complaint. Although it may not always be possible to provide you with a full account, we will give you as much information as possible about the actions taken to deal with the cause for concern.
5.7 In some circumstances it may be appropriate to refer your concern to the Chief Executive of the BBSRC or, if you are deployed to work in an Institute, to the Chairperson of the Governing Body of the establishment, or to an independent external person as named by local rules. They will take whatever steps are necessary to consider the case in the spirit of these guidelines and resolve the problem. These will normally involve a formal investigation of the facts and include interviewing the employee and any other individuals involved in the case. A work colleague/trade union representative can accompany you at any meeting. The Chief Executive/Chairperson/independent external person will notify you of the actions, if any, taken to deal with the cause for concern.
6.1 If you wish to appeal against the decision of the investigator you must inform the head of HR or Head of Operations within 10 working days of notification of the investigator’s decision. Your appeal must be in writing and should clearly set out the reasons for your appeal.
- You will be invited in writing to attend a further meeting at which you may be accompanied by a work colleague or Trade Union representative
- The local head of HR or Head of Operations, in consultation with an employee at band E or above from Human Resources and Corporate Services Group, will decide who considers your appeal. This person should:
- Not have any conflict of interests with any of the parties involved in the case, and
- As far as is reasonably practicable, should be more senior than the original investigator
- You must take all reasonable steps to attend this meeting. If you do not attend, your appeal will be heard in your absence but (see also paragraph 7 below)
- The person hearing your appeal will inform you of the outcome in writing, normally within 10 working days.
You (and if appropriate the person accompanying you) are expected to make every effort to attend an arranged meeting.
7.1 There may be occasions when we are unable to contact you or you are unable to attend a meeting. However, it is important that the process is not unreasonably delayed at any stage and therefore in these circumstances the following will normally apply:
- If your representative is not available you should offer a reasonable alternative date within 5 days of the original date. Meetings cannot be unreasonably delayed due to the non-availability of a particular representative
- If you fail to attend due to circumstances beyond your control (e.g. illness) we will arrange another meeting with you
- If you are repeatedly unable or unwilling to attend a meeting the following alternatives may also be offered in order to give you every opportunity to present your views:
- Holding the meeting at your home
- Holding the meeting at a neutral location
- Holding the meeting via a telephone or video conference
- Going ahead with the meeting in your absence but with a TUS representative or work colleague of your choosing who will present your case
- Going ahead with meeting but taking into account any written representations that you wish to make
- The seriousness of the issues under consideration
- Medical opinion from the Occupational Health physician on whether you are fit to attend the meeting
- How we have dealt with similar cases in the past
We may decide to proceed in your absence, but you will be advised in advance. The meeting will take into account all the available relevant information and available evidence and you will be notified of the outcome in writing and made aware of your right to appeal, as appropriate.
You should use this procedure to raise concerns which affect the public interest. However, you can make a disclosure to a third party without following this procedure, or at any point in the procedure, if:
- You reasonably believe that you will be victimised if you raise the matter internally or have suffered an identifiable detriment
- You reasonably believe that evidence is likely to be concealed or destroyed
- You have previously raised your concern internally without success
If you have concerns about raising issues internally and are employed by or deployed to work in an institute, you may contact the Chair or other designated member of the Governing Body (contact details will be provided locally). If you work for BBSRC in Swindon Office or hosted unit you may contact the Chair of the BBSRC Audit Board, who has been nominated as a confidential, external point of contact and can be contacted at the following confidential email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. They will decide on the appropriate person to investigate the matter; this may be someone from outside the organisation. You should include the following information:
An overview of the issue(s)
- Any action you have taken to date to resolve the issue or to follow these whistleblowing procedures
- Why you feel you cannot, or are unable to continue to, raise the issue internally
- A contact telephone number (including for outside of normal office hours
If you feel unable to use the internal procedure there are other prescribed people you can make the disclosure to. For a list of the prescribed people/bodies you can make a disclosure to refer to www.direct.gov.uk (external link).
Under appendix A10:3 you may, with the permission of your employer, work for another organisation (for example, as a consultant). If you suspect wrongdoing by that other employer, you should use the internal procedures of that organisation.
If you suspect wrong-doing within a spin-out company see appendix A10:1 while acting in your capacity as a BBSRC employee (e.g. as a Health and Safety Adviser) you should follow the procedure set out in this policy.
Last updated 31/07/12
Amendment 145 - July 2012