1. Statement of Policy
UCM encourages a free and open culture in dealings between its managers, employees and all people with whom it engages in business and legal relations. In particular, the company recognises that effective and honest communication is essential if concerns about breaches or failures are to be effectively dealt with and the company’s success ensured.
This policy is designed to provide guidance to all those who work with or within UCM who may feel that they need to raise certain issues relating to the company with someone in confidence.
Workers who raise genuine concerns in the public interest under this policy will not, under any circumstances, be subjected to any form of discrimination, detriment or disadvantage as a result of having raised their concerns.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 recognises that workers have the right to “blow the whistle” and disclose certain information, such as fraudulent activities, malpractice and/or concerns about health and safety.
The Act ensures specific rights for those who disclose information to a third party about an alleged wrong-doing in defined circumstances. There is no general right for all so-called whistleblowers to receive special protection. To qualify, the following issues must be met:
• The disclosure in question must relate to one of the specified categories contained within the Act
• The disclosure must be made in one of the ways specified.
This policy will apply in cases where workers genuinely believe that one of the following sets of circumstances is occurring, has occurred or may occur within the company and that it is in the public interest for the employee to disclose it. The matters that may be disclosed in this way are as follows:
• A criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed
• A person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which s/he is subject
• A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur
• The health or safety of an individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered
• The environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged
• Information tending to show any substantial failing within any one of the preceding points has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed
UCM encourages anyone with a genuine concern to raise it by providing the facility to make the complaint to someone who has no direct involvement with the issue. The issue should be reported to a director or another responsible person in a senior position. If there is not a sufficiently senior person to deal with the complaint within the organisation, external routes should be considered, as set out by the Act. The matter will be dealt with objectively and in a confidential manner. If you have a concern, do not wait until you have proof or investigate the matter yourself. A reasonable suspicion will suffice, i.e. where you reasonably believe that the information disclosed is substantially true.
However, the disclosure will not qualify for protection in the following two important situations:
• If the person making the disclosure commits an offence by making it
• If it is a matter in which a legal, professional privilege would apply; namely, correspondence between the employer and their lawyers regarding a specific case.
UCM will not take action against anyone who raises a complaint under these policies in good faith because they did so. However, employees who make false allegations maliciously may be subject to the appropriate disciplinary action. This Whistleblowing Policy does not cover private grievances, including complaints about individual employment matters. A ‘whistleblower’ is a witness, not a complainant.
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