Whistleblowing policy

Confidential Reporting Policy

(Whistleblowing)

Who looks after this policy: Our Executive Director (Corporate Services)
Who approved it: Our Board
When was it last reviewed: July 2019
When is the next review: July 2022

1. Purpose

B3Living is committed to the highest standards of quality, probity, openness and accountability and as such encourages employees or others with serious genuine concerns about any aspect of B3Living’s work to express those concerns without fear of reprisal or victimisation.

This policy outlines how B3Living employees and Board members can raise genuine concerns that they may have about conduct within the business or the way in which the business is run. It also explains how those concerns will be dealt with. Other individuals carrying out work or providing a service for B3Living, for example, volunteers, agency workers, casual workers and contractors, are also encouraged to use the policy.


2. Scope

The policy relates to any feedback received from customers of B3Living, or by others on their behalf.  Customers will include any tenant, leaseholder, housing applicant, members of the public directly affected by our services or anyone else requesting a service from B3Living.


3. Policy details

 

B3Living will involve employees as appropriate when developing its procedures on confidential reporting. It is important that all employees and other workers should be able to express their sense of right and wrong within an appropriate framework.

Everyone should be aware of the importance of preventing and eliminating wrongdoing at work. Workers should be watchful for illegal or unethical conduct and report anything of that nature that they become aware of. B3Living will therefore seek
to ensure that people carrying out relevant functions are able to recognise the following problems, and that they understand the effects these problems can have on B3Living, individual jobs and the services that are provided:

  • Fraud, corruption and malpractice
  • Abuse or neglect of vulnerable people
  • Failure to deliver proper standards of service
  • Deliberate damage to B3Living’s reputation.

B3Living will ensure that employees and Board members know what is expected of them and what practices are regarded as unacceptable. Employees and Board members should familiarise themselves with B3Living’s Code of Conduct, which provides general guidelines for personal conduct, carefully and discuss anything that seems unclear with their line manager. If employees are not sure what to do in a given situation, they should seek advice from their manager before taking any action.

Matters raised under this procedure will be investigated thoroughly, promptly and, where possible, confidentially.

The procedure for dealing with fraud and theft, including how to report suspicions of fraud or theft, is detailed in B3Living’s Anti-Fraud and Theft Policy which states that where evidence of serious theft or fraud is present, the matter will be reported to the police.

No worker will be dismissed, subjected to any other detriment or victimised for raising a genuine concern under this policy. This means that continued employment and opportunities for future promotion or training will not be prejudiced because someone has raised a legitimate concern. This also applies if a genuine concern is
not upheld after investigation. This means that those who come forward with a genuine concern and act in good faith have nothing to fear.

Victimisation of a worker for raising a qualified disclosure will be a disciplinary offence.

If misconduct is discovered as a result of any investigation under this policy B3Living’s disciplinary procedure will be used and, where appropriate, concerns may be pursued through the courts.

Maliciously making a false allegation is a disciplinary offence, as is the regular, inappropriate use of the procedure for dealing with concerns to raise minor issues.

An instruction to cover up wrongdoing is itself a disciplinary offence, if told not to raise or pursue any concern, even by a person in authority such as a manager, workers should not agree to remain silent. They should report the matter to a director, member of HR or Board member.

B3Living recognises that it is not always easy to report a genuine concern, particularly where colleagues are affected, where the alleged perpetrator is a senior manager or Board member and in cases where fraud or corruption might be
involved. If preferable, B3Living is happy for  employees or others to come forward with a colleague, a friend or Trade Union representative to report a concern.

B3Living hopes that concerns will be raised at an early stage, before problems have a chance to become serious, and appreciates that this may need to be done on a confidential basis.

Every effort will be made to protect the identity of the person raising a concern, but this cannot be guaranteed in all cases, for example where the concern relates to a criminal activity that B3Living is required to report to the police or where the nature of the concern that has been raised or resulting investigation enables people to guess the identity of the whistle-blower. Where concerns raised result in disciplinary action being taken against an employee, the person who raised the concern may be asked to make a witness statement. In these circumstances witnesses who wish to remain anonymous will be allowed to do so. Further  information on this can be found in the Disciplinary policy.

Concerns that are raised anonymously will be looked into but are likely to be more difficult to investigate and protection against reprisals and feedback can only be afforded to identifiable individuals. B3Living hopes that given the reassurances in this policy and in training or other forms of communication about protection from detrimental treatment and the open reporting culture that exists across the organisation, people will be willing to raise concerns without resorting to anonymity.

In the first instance, employees should raise concerns with their line manager, unless they reasonably believe their manager to be involved in the wrongdoing or they do not feel comfortable doing so, in which case concerns should be raised with their Executive Director, another Executive Director or the Chief Executive.

If employees do not feel able to raise the matter directly with someone who is part of the day to day management of B3Living, then they are at liberty to talk to the Chair of B3Living’s Board of Management, the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee or the Assistant Company Secretary.

If a Board member wishes to raise a concern, in the first instance they should do so with the Chief Executive, Chair of the Board of Management or Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Employees raising genuine concerns will need to exercise their own judgement about whom to contact in the first instance based on the nature and seriousness of the concern.

If a worker is still unsure about whether or how to raise a concern or wants confidential advice, they can contact the  Independent charity Public Concern at Work. Their lawyers can provide free confidential advice on how to raise a concern about serious malpractice at work.

The contact details for Public Concern at Work are:

Address:
3rd Floor, Bank Chambers, 6-10 Borough High Street, London, SE1 9QQ


Telephone:
Whistleblowing Advice Line: 020 7404 6609
General Enquiries: 020 3117 2520
Fax: 020 7403 8823

UK advice line: whistle@pcaw.org.uk

Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, in situations where employees believe if they make a disclosure to a manager, senior manager or Chief Executive it will be covered up or they will suffer a detriment of some kind or, where they have already told someone inside B3Living and they don’t believe appropriate action has been taken they can contact an appropriate external body. They may wish to contact the Regulator of Social Housing who are the regulators for all of B3Living’s activities.

Alternatively, one of the following external bodies can be contacted depending on the nature of the concern being raised:

  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • The Financial Conduct Authority
  • The Competition and Markets Authority
  • The Health and Safety Executive
  • The Environment Agency
  • The Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • The Serious Fraud Office.

Concerns do not have to be raised in writing but the B3Living manager or Board / Committee member receiving the concern must ensure they make a written note of key details relayed to them by the employee. This will include:

  • The date the concern was raised
  • The part of the organisation the concern relates to
  • The nature of the concern and the key elements
  • Any action taken to date
  • What has been said to the discloser about how the concern will be taken forward
  • Whether the discloser has any wishes with regards to confidentiality.

A copy of this document should be given to the person raising the concern and passed to a member of the Executive Team. A central record of all concerns will be kept by HR.

When a matter of genuine concern is raised, B3Living will investigate the matter swiftly, carefully and thoroughly, adhering to the principles set out above. The Executive Director who has received the concern or been given a written  record from the manager who has received the concern will decide on the nature of the investigation required and who is best placed to conduct this according to the circumstances. This will be decided in consultation with other members of the Executive Team where appropriate. An investigation may not be required if, after an initial conversation with the person raising it, it becomes clear it has arisen due to a misunderstanding.

During an investigation, B3Living will seek to ensure fairness to all those concerned, including those who may potentially be accused of misconduct. Given that concerns raised under this policy are likely to be serious, the Executive Director authorising the investigation will consider, in conjunction with HR, whether to suspend an employee suspected of wrongdoing so as not to prejudice an investigation. B3Living’s disciplinary policy outlines the process for suspending an employee on full pay. The aim of an investigation is to establish the facts relating to the concern raised. This may involve the worker, employee(s) suspected of misconduct and potential witnesses giving a written, signed and dated statement.

These statements will be taken into account when deciding how to progress the concern and those providing statements may be asked to comment on any additional evidence obtained.

The manager carrying out the investigation will report their findings to the Executive Team or a delegated member of the Executive Team, as agreed at the outset, who will decide what action will be taken as a result of the investigation including whether to report the matter to an appropriate government department or regulatory agency.

Where appropriate the Executive Team will ensure the Board of Management is able to influence the decision on the most appropriate action to be taken.

The Board of Management will receive a full report on the concern raised, investigation outcome and action taken once the issue has been resolved.

If, as a result of the investigation, there is sufficient evidence to suggest misconduct has taken place, HR will be informed, and the disciplinary procedure will be instigated. Any evidence collated as part of an investigation under this policy can be used to inform any subsequent disciplinary investigation.

Any investigations undertaken will respect any concerns employees have expressed about their own safety or position.

If requested, the worker raising the concern will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of the concern and providing information on who is dealing with the matter and who to contact if they have any questions. The worker will be given regular updates of progress made during the investigation and will be informed of the investigation outcome including action to be taken, although care will need to be taken to respect confidentiality and data protection considerations.

If a worker raising a concern is not satisfied with the response, the issue may be raised with the Chief Executive, Chair of the Board of Management or external body as appropriate.

If a concern has been raised about the conduct of the Board as a whole or Board individually, the matter will be referred to a third party to investigate and findings will be reported back to the Board. If concerns are upheld, it may be necessary to report the findings to the Regulator and the Police.


4. Equality, diversity and inclusion

The Board of Management will have responsibility for monitoring progress, producing and publishing results and undertaking periodic reviews of the Confidential Reporting Policy.

The Audit and Risk Committee will receive information at least once a year on the numbers and types of cases arising from the Policy, if any concerns have been reported. In reporting to the Committee on the numbers and types of cases raised, the confidentiality and anonymity of employees will be preserved at all times.


5. Information and guidance

B3Living will ensure appropriate information and guidance is available to those with responsibilities under this policy in the form of staff briefings, written information and guidance and training where appropriate to ensure the policy is applied fairly and consistently across the organisation.


6. Roles and responsibilities

The Board of Management, has responsibility for the Confidential Reporting policy.

The Audit and Risk Committee will oversee the operation and effectiveness of the Whistle Blowing policy, receiving an incident report at least annually.

Day to day responsibility lies with the Chief Executive and the Management Team.

Individual employees have a specific responsibility and duty to report genuine concerns in a responsible manner.


7. Related policies and procedures

The following policies and procedures can be found on Workplace or are available on request from line managers or a member of the HR team.

  • Code of Conduct for Staff
  • Grievance Policy and Procedure
  • Harassment and Bullying Policy
  • Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
  • Anti-Fraud and Theft Policyy and reported to our Board at each meeting as part of our key performance indicators.