A whistleblowing policy and procedure is developed in the context of the Public Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA).  The areas covered can be highly sensitive and emotive, and without adequate training on how to handle such instances, can send senior management into a blind panic and prompt inappropriate responses, thus further exacerbating the situation. The consequences of a badly handled complaint can be devastating.

The distinction between a grievance and whistleblowing is important in this context and it is helpful if employers clearly outline this in their procedures. A grievance is a matter of personal interest and does not impact on the wider public, whilst a whistleblowing procedure provides the framework for dealing with serious concerns, including:

  • A criminal offence has been, is being, or is likely to be committed
  • Suspected fraud
  • Malpractice or ill treatment of a client
  • Repeated ill treatment of a client despite a complaint being made

A whistleblowing policy and procedure should also provide guidance for individual workers who believe they have no option than to raise their concern with an external body. In order to be protected under the Public Information Disclosure Act they must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Reasonably believe they would be victimised if they raised the matter internally
  • Reasonably believe that a cover up is likely
  • They had raised the matter internally and no action had been taken

Preventing malicious allegations

There are occasions when individuals may raise concerns in bad faith with an ulterior motive, for example a poor relationship with a colleague. A clear approach otulined in the Whistleblowing procedure as follows can help to prevent this:

  • Where it is determined that there is no case to answer, but the whistleblowing staff member had a genuine concern and was not acting in bad faith, the employer will ensure that the staff member suffers no reprisals or victimisation
  • Where it is established that false allegations have been made in bad faith, it may be considered appropriate to refer to the disciplinary procedure





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