Making a Protected Disclosure


Last updated 1 July, 2018

Principle and statement of intent

Bumbles Day Care is committed to the highest standards of openness, integrity and accountability. An important aspect of accountability and transparency is a mechanism to enable staff and other members of the group to voice concerns in a responsible and effective manner. It is a fundamental term of every contract of employment that an employee will faithfully serve their employer and not disclose confidential information about the employer’s affairs. Nevertheless, where an individual discovers information that they believe shows serious malpractice or wrongdoing within the group, then this information should be disclosed internally without fear of reprisal.

The Public Interest Disclosure (Northern Ireland) Order 1998, which came into force on 31 October 1999, gives legal protection to employees against being dismissed or penalised by their employers as a result of publicly disclosing certain serious concerns. Bumbles Day Care has endorsed the provision set out below so as to ensure that no member of staff should feel at a disadvantage in raising legitimate concerns.

Making a protected disclosure or ‘whistle-blowing’ as it is commonly called, refers to the disclosure internally or externally by employees of malpractice, as well as illegal acts or omissions at work. It should be emphasised that this policy is intended to assist individuals who believe they have discovered malpractice or impropriety. Once the ‘whistle-blowing’ procedures are in place, it is reasonable to expect staff to use them rather than air their complaints outside of Bumbles Day Care. However, it should also be highlighted that whistle-blowing is not intended to replace normal grievance procedures.

Procedures

Bumbles Day Care will comply with the terms and conditions of the Public Interest Disclosure (NI) Order 1998, Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Scope of Policy

Bumbles Day Care has a range of policies and procedures, which deal with standards of behaviour at work; they cover Discipline, Grievance, Complaints, Harassment or Victimisation, and Recruitment and Selection, among others. Employees are encouraged to use these procedures when appropriate. However, there may be times when the matter is not about your personal employment. This policy is designed to enable employees of the group to raise concerns internally and at a high level and to disclose information that the individual believes shows malpractice or impropriety. The policy covers all employees and trainees. The usual employment law restriction on minimum qualifying period and age do not apply, however, it does not cover volunteers. The Act protects people who raise concerns about past, present and future malpractices in relation to:

  • A criminal act.
  • A failure to comply with legal duty (eg negligence or breach of contract).
  • A miscarriage of justice.
  • Danger to health and safety.
  • Damage to the environment.
  • Deliberately covering up any of these.

Your Safeguards

Protection

This policy is designed to offer protection to those employees of Bumbles Day Care who disclose such concerns provided the disclosure is made:

In good faith.

In the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure that it tends to show malpractice or impropriety and if they make the disclosure to an appropriate person (see below).

Harassment or Victimisation

Harassment or victimisation of individuals, who have raised concerns, including informal pressures, will not be tolerated and will be treated as a serious disciplinary offence that will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure. Any investigation into allegations of malpractice will not influence or be influenced by any disciplinary or redundancy procedures that may already affect you. Neither does it mean, that any disciplinary or redundancy procedures to which you are already subject will be halted as a result of raising concerns.

Confidentiality

Bumbles Day Care will treat all such disclosures in a confidential and sensitive manner. The identity of the individual making the allegation may be kept confidential so long as it does not hinder or frustrate any investigation. However, the investigation process may reveal the source of the information and the individual making the disclosure may need to provide a statement as part of the evidence required.

Anonymous Allegations

This policy encourages individuals to put their name to any disclosures they make. Concerns expressed anonymously may be viewed as less credible, but they may be considered at the discretion of the management team. In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account will include:

  • The seriousness of the issues raised.
  • The credibility of the concern.
  • The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources.

Untrue Allegations

If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not confirmed by subsequent investigation, no action will be taken against that individual. In making a disclosure, the individual should exercise due care to ensure the accuracy of the information. If, however, an individual makes frivolous or malicious allegations and particularly if they persist with making them, disciplinary action may be taken against that individual.

Raising a Concern

You should voice your concerns, suspicions or uneasiness as soon as you feel you can. The earlier a concern is expressed the easier and sooner it is possible for action to be taken.

  • Try to pinpoint what practice is concerning you and why
  • Are there witnesses to support you?
  • Record exactly
  • A member of staff is not expected to prove the truth of an allegation, but you will need to demonstrate sufficient grounds for the concern.
  • Notify your Co-ordinator, Deputy Manager, Manager or Owner – whichever is the most appropriate in relation to the concern. There is an open door policy if a member of staff needs to notify a Deputy Manager or Manager. The owner’s contact numbers are:
    • 028 90471455 / 07793018775. If out of hours, a member of staff can also email to info@bumblesdaycare.com
    • Make sure you get a satisfactory response and if not contact the next person in line of management.

The Co-ordinator, Deputy Manager or Manager, together with the owner will decide the strategy for investigating any allegations. This must be initiated within 3 days of receiving the allegation and management will ensure that:

  • Support is offered to the person making the allegation, especially if the person is:
    • Isolated
    • Fears repercussions
  • All concerns will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal the whistle-blower’s identity. At the appropriate time however, the whistle-blower may need to come forward as a witness.
  • The staff member making the allegations will be informed of the outcome of the investigation, taking into consideration the need for confidentiality.

If the staff member disagrees with the outcome of the allegation the may contact the owner and in the event that they feel that Bumbles Day Care has not dealt with the concern they can approach the:

Early Years Social Worker
Early Years Team
Everton Complex
585-587 Crumlin Road
Belfast
BT14 7GB
Tel No. 028 95042811

If you have a concern and are unsure whether to use this policy or want independent advice at any stage, you may contact the independent charity ‘Public Concern at Work’ on 020 7404 6609. Their lawyers can give free confidential advice at any stage about how to raise concerns about serious malpractice at work.