The whistleblowing policy sets out the framework for dealing with allegations of illegal and improper conduct.
Studee is committed to the highest standards of transparency, probity, integrity, and accountability.
This policy is intended to provide a means of making serious allegations about standards, conduct, financial irregularity, or possible unlawful action in a way that will ensure confidentiality and protect those making such allegations in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so from being victimized, discriminated against or disadvantaged.
This policy is intended to ensure that Studee complies with its duty under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
This policy applies to all Studee team members, including associates and contractors.
This policy does not replace other Studee policies or procedures. For example, if an employee has a grievance about their working conditions they should use the Studee Grievance Policy or if they felt that their manager or a colleague was treating them unfavorably, they should use the Studee Harassment and Bullying Policy.
Similarly, if an employee has a concern about the conduct of a fellow employee in the working environment (e.g. that they are not treating colleagues with respect) they should raise these with their line manager, or if that is not possible, with the Head of People, CEO, COO or through the Charity Commission’s whistleblowing policy - [email protected]
This policy applies to, but is not limited to, allegations about any of the following:
- Conduct that is an offense or breach of the law
- Alleged miscarriage of justice
- Serious Health and Safety risks
- The unauthorized use of public funds
- Possible fraud and corruption
- Sexual, physical or verbal abuse, or bullying or intimidation of employees, customers, or service users
- Abuse of authority
- Other unethical conduct
Contact details for reporting: please use our complaints, compliments, and comments form to alert us.
Studee recognizes that the decision to make an allegation can be a difficult one to make. However, whistleblowers who make serious allegations in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so have nothing to fear because they are doing their duty either to Studee and/or to those for whom Studee or they are providing a service.
Studee will take appropriate action to protect a whistleblower who makes a serious allegation in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so from any reprisals, harassment or victimization.
All allegations will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal a whistleblower’s identity unless the whistleblower otherwise requests. However, if the matter is subsequently dealt with through other Studee procedures such as the disciplinary policy.
Similarly, if the allegation results in court proceedings then the whistleblower may have to give evidence in open court if the case is to be successful.
Studee will not, without the whistleblower’s consent, disclose the identity of a whistleblower to anyone other than a person involved in the investigation.
This procedure encourages whistleblowers to put their name to an allegation wherever possible as anonymous allegations may often be difficult to substantiate. Allegations made anonymously are much less powerful but anonymous allegations will be considered at the discretion of the CEO, COO, or Head of People.
In exercising discretion to accept an anonymous allegation, the factors to be taken into account are:
- The seriousness of the issue raised
- The credibility of the allegation; and
- Whether the allegation can realistically be investigated from factors or sources other than the complainant
No disciplinary or other action will be taken against a whistleblower who makes an allegation in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so even if the allegation is not substantiated by an investigation.
However, disciplinary action may be taken against a whistleblower who makes an allegation without reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so (e.g. making an allegation frivolously, maliciously, or for personal gain where there is no element of public interest).
Procedure for making an allegation
It is preferable for allegations to be made to an employee’s team lead to whom they report. However, this may depend on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is suspected of the malpractice.
For example, if the whistleblower believes that management is involved it would be inappropriate to raise it directly with them. The whistleblower may then make an allegation direct to any of the following:
- The CEO
- The COO
- Head of People
If either of the above receives an allegation they will consider the allegation and may discuss it with either the CEO, COO, or Head of People. The team lead, or any of the above, after consideration, will discuss with the whistleblower and if they wish to proceed with the allegation, it will be investigated.
Whether a written or oral report is made it is important that relevant information is provided including:
- The name of the person making the allegation and a contact point. (if they have not asked to speak in confidence)
- The background and history of the allegation (giving relevant dates and names and positions of those who may be in a position to have contributed to the allegation);
- The specific reason for the allegation. Although someone making an allegation will not be expected to prove the truth of any allegations, they will need to provide information to the person they have reported to, to establish that there are reasonable grounds for the allegation.
- The record of the allegation:
- The acknowledgment of the allegation;
- Any documents supplied by the whistleblower
- An acknowledgment of the allegation in writing within 10 working days with;
- An indication of how Studee propose to deal with the matter
- An estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response
- An indication of whether any initial enquiries have been made
- Information on whistleblower support mechanisms
- Indication whether further investigations will take place and if not, why not
- The name and status (e.g. employee) of the whistleblower
- The date on which the allegation was received
- The nature of the allegation
- Details of the person who received the allegation
- Whether the allegation is to be investigated and, if yes, by whom
- The outcome of the investigation
- Any other relevant details
Someone making an allegation may be accompanied by another person of their choosing during any meetings or interviews in connection with the allegation. However, if the matter is subsequently dealt with through another procedure the right to be accompanied will at that stage be in accordance with the relevant procedure.
Action on receipt of an allegation
The team lead will record the details of the allegation gathering as much information as possible, (within five working days of receipt of the allegation) including:
The investigator will ask the whistleblower for their preferred means of communication and contact details and use these for all communications with the whistleblower in order to preserve confidentiality.
If the allegation relates to fraud, potential fraud, or other financial irregularity the Executives will be informed within five working days of receipt of the allegation. The Executive will determine whether the allegation should be investigated and the method of investigation.
If the allegation discloses evidence of a criminal offense it will immediately be reported to the Board of Trustees and a decision will be made as to whether to inform the police.
If the allegation concerns suspected harm to children the appropriate authorities will be informed immediately.
If the issue is around suspected harm to vulnerable adults, the Vulnerable Adults policy, the Mental Capacity Act Policy, and the Deprivation of Liberty and Safeguarding Policies should be referred to.
Where the allegation has been made internally and anonymously, Studee will be unable to communicate what action has been taken.
Studee will take steps to minimize any difficulties which may be experienced as a result of making an allegation. For instance, if a whistleblower is required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings Studee will arrange for them to receive advice about the policy and advise on the support mechanisms that are available.
Studee accepts that whistleblowers need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal constraints, we will inform those making allegations of the outcome of any investigation.
Responsibility for the policy
The CEO, COO, and Head of People have overall responsibility for the operation of this policy and for determining the administrative processes to be followed and the format of the records to be kept.
A register will record the following details:
The register will be confidential and only available for inspection by the Board of Trustees. The CEO, COO, and Head of People will report annually to the Board on the operation of the procedure and on the whistleblowing allegations made during the period covered by the report.
The report will be in a form that does not identify whistleblowers.