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RAISING A WHISTLEBLOWING CONCERN

What should I do?

You’ve seen something that concerns you at work but you’re not sure how or whether you should whistleblow.

Think about raising the concern internally in the first instance – there is the added advantage of your employer being able to act quickly on your concerns than an external body.

For instance, you may want to consider approaching your line manager or supervisor. If for whatever reason you can’t raise your concerns with them – maybe they are involved in the wrongdoing, you don’t trust them to act properly, you have a poor working relationship, or you fear victimisation from them – then here are some other options to consider:

  • Look at your employers whistleblowing policy, it may be referred to under a different name such as a ‘Speak Up Policy’ or maybe ‘Raising Concerns Policy’, either way this document will give you an idea of how to blow the whistle within your organisation
  • Many organisations have a whistleblowing policy which may include a whistleblowing contact who you could raise your concern with
  • The whistleblowing policy is a guide rather then something that is a binding document, so you could also consider other contacts you feel comfortable in approaching, instance the HR or compliance department, or a manager or trustee that you personally trust
  • Depending on the concerns you’re looking to raise, there may be a specific department you could approach. For instance, a financial concern could mean an internal audit department, or a finance manager might be the person to raise the concerns with

No luck?

If you’ve tried all the above without success, see “I’ve raised my concerns, but they are still unresolved” or call us on 020 3117 2520 for advice

Should I investigate the concern before I raise it, and what about taking confidential documents?

It’s not your job to investigate. It’s more important to raise your concerns as soon as possible so any action can be taken quickly by the appropriate people within the organisation to stop the harm sooner.

We’d caution against taking confidential documents or accessing confidential files to try to strengthen the concerns. It could cause you more problems in the long run.

Should I raise my concern anonymously?

How you raise your concern is important and there are differences between raising concerns anonymously, openly and confidentially.

Anonymously raising concerns means no one knows who you are. This may seem like an appealing option but there are some downsides. The person who receives your concern will be unable to ask you follow-up questions for further information. It will also make it harder for an employer or regulator to protect you from victimisation, as they will struggle to confirm your identity as the whistleblower. Finally, you will not be able to use the legal protection for whistleblowers, the Public Interest Disclosure Act, as the protection is based on an ability to demonstrate you have blown the whistle, which if the recipient of the concerns doesn’t know who you are then this becomes impossible to establish.

Openly raising your concerns means you are not worried about being identified.

Confidentially raising you concerns is where the person you take your concerns to promises not to reveal your identity.

Raising your concerns either openly or confidentially are more effective ways to raise your concerns. Both methods mean follow-up questions can be asked, action can be taken against any victimisation against you, and both mean you can demonstrate blowing the whistle for the purposes of legal protection.

If you feel the only way to raise your concerns is to progress anonymously, please contact us for advice.

What if I'm wrong?

It doesn’t matter. You simply need to report and raise either the incident you have witnessed or describe your concerns.

When to call us for advice

There are various reasons that prevent people from raising their concerns. If any of these situations sound familiar, talk to us.

  • You don’t know how to raise your concerns or who to raise them to
  • If you are unsure whether your concerns are whistleblowing concerns
  • You fear being victimised from co-workers or from managers within the organisation
  • You are worried your concerns will not be dealt with if raised with your employer, because in the past, concerns you or your colleagues have raised have not been dealt with
  • The senior manager, director, owner or chief executive is directly involved in the wrongdoing
  • You are considering contacting an outside body such as a regulator or the media
  • You are considering raising your concerns either confidentiality or anonymously either with your employer or with an outside body such as a regulator, police, or media
  • You have any fears, apprehension, or doubts about raising your concern and need support

Contacting us

Did you know that you can call us or send us an email?

Do:

  • Raise a concern that affects others rather than something that purely affects you and is a personal matter
  • Raise your concern as soon as you’re aware of it – you do not need to be wholly accurate
  • Raise what you have seen, or personally aware of, and where possible stick to situations or incidents you have seen for yourself rather than what colleagues may have told you
  • Call us for advice if you fear victimisation from raising your concerns
  • Talk to any manager or director and send a follow up email or letter – this is a good way of sending an audit trail proving what has happened further down the line
  • Create a diary to record what happened once you raised the concern and then any reaction from managers

Don't

  • Raise concerns that have been witnessed by others – call us for advice in this situation
  • Raise your concerns anonymously without speaking to us first for advice
  • Use the grievance policy to raise a whistleblowing concern, this should be reserved for issues that affect your personal employment rights or are about your own treatment in the workplace – your trade union or ACAS which is available for everyone, can provide more information about this process