4. Safeguarding whistleblowers and dealing with malicious allegations
In line with the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, the Council undertakes that no employee who makes a report under this procedure and who has a reasonable belief that the disclosure they are making is in the ‘public interest’ will be subjected to any detriment as a result. The fact that there needs to be ‘reasonable belief’ does not mean that their belief must be correct for the protection to apply.
This means the Council will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation (including any informal pressures) nor any attempt to apply a sanction or any other detriment to a person who has reported any serious and genuine concern that they have of any apparent malpractice. Anyone who victimises a ‘whistleblowing’ colleague will personally be liable as the affected ‘whistleblower’ can directly bring a claim against the culprit. Further the employee can refer their case to an industrial tribunal.
In the event that you believe you are being subjected to a detriment by any person within the Council, as a result of your decision to invoke the procedure, you must inform the Monitoring Officer or the Strategic Lead (Organisational Development) immediately and appropriate action will be taken to protect you from any reprisals.
The Council encourages you to put your name to your allegation as this gives weight to the case and helps with the investigation of the issue. However, you may seek to remain anonymous if you wish. All information you provide is held in the strictest confidence and the Council will seek to protect the identity of any employee as far as possible.
It is important to note that if your allegation is of such a serious nature, it may be necessary for your identity to be revealed. This may be because of the need for the identity to be revealed as part of the evidence. Moreover, if the matter is brought to court, a judge may order a name to be divulged. However the Council will do everything possible to protect your anonymity before this stage is reached and will discuss with you before embarking on any course of action whereby your identity will be disclosed. Please note though that once action is initiated, notwithstanding your desire for anonymity and the Council’s aim of protecting that anonymity, it may simply not be possible to achieve this.
You may bring a friend or colleague to any meeting arranged in connection with the concern you have raised as long as the friend or colleague is not involved in the matter and agrees to maintain confidentiality. Additionally, if you wish, you may be accompanied by your trade union representative. It will be up to you to arrange this.
It is emphasised that you have nothing to fear by raising your concerns. Provided you are acting in reasonable belief that you are acting the public interest, it does not matter if you are mistaken. However, disciplinary action may be taken against any member of staff who is discovered to have made allegations frivolously, falsely or maliciously, for example to pursue a personal grudge against another employee.
The Council will try to ensure that any negative impact of either a malicious or unfounded allegation about a person is minimised.