Aim of Policy
This document outlines the agency’s policy on its response to allegations or reporting of abuse of service users and other forms of misconduct made by one or more members of staff against other staff. These actions are known as “whistle blowing”.
The requirement to have such a policy arises because in the past, the management of organizations has often treated people as troublemakers who have reported or alleged malpractice by colleagues. It is now legally recognized that staff that are in a position to observe and report bad practice should be enabled to do so without fear of repercussions on their conduct and career prospects. Indeed, if they should fail to report malpractice, they could be accused of colluding in it and therefore guilty of misconduct themselves.
The agency’s policy on “whistle blowing” sets out to comply in every aspect with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 in protecting and not victimizing staff who seek to report and have investigated genuine and reasonable concerns about any form of malpractice that they encounter in their work.
At the same time, the agency does seek to create an atmosphere of open communication and commitment to high standards of work, within which criticisms can be frankly made and thoroughly investigated.
The agency also recommends that its staff decide to have access to independent legal advice in the event of their being involved in allegations as whistleblowers or as people against whom allegations are made. They are encouraged to do this through membership of a trades union or professional organization that includes legal advice as part of its services.
Obligations on Staff to Report Abuse
The agency requires its entire staff to observe the agency’s work carefully and report diligently on anything that causes them concern. We believe that teamwork and loyalty to colleagues should not be allowed to deter staff from reporting suspected abuse, criminal acts, and neglect of service users or bad practice that is against the GSCC Code of Conduct for Social Care Workers, when they observe it. Any member of staff who witnesses or suspects abuse by another member of staff should report on it as soon as possible to their line manager. The manager will accept responsibility for the actions that follow and will assure the “whistleblower” that they have acted correctly by reporting the matter and will not be victimized.
Despite the assurances the agency gives to its staff, the agency accepts that there may be incidents that the staff member does not feel confident or able to report in the first instance to the manager. The agency then accepts the right and obligation of the staff member to report their concerns to an outside authority such as the police, the Local Authority Safeguarding unit or to the Care Quality Commission to initiate an investigation. The agency provides every staff member with the contact details, which are included in this policy, of these agencies in the staff handbook. The agency will not penalize or victimize any staff member who responsibly reports their concerns in these ways.
Investigating and Dealing with Allegations
The manager to whom abuse by a staff member is reported should take the necessary steps under the agency’s policy on abuse. In addition, they should, if possible, protect the source of the information. If a manager fails to act promptly, suppresses evidence, or is involved in any action to discourage whistle blowing, they may render themselves liable to disciplinary action.
Dealing with Interference with or Victimization of Staff who have Reported Abuse
Any member of staff who attempts to prevent a staff member from reporting their concerns to a manager or who bullies, attempts to intimidate, or discriminates against a colleague in these circumstances will be dealt with under disciplinary proceedings. A whistleblower who feels themselves to be subject to hostile action from colleagues should inform their manager, who should, if necessary, take steps to alter the staff member’s duties so as to protect them from the hostile action. The agency includes in its staff handbook information on how to contact the Public Concern at Work organization that has been established to protect whistleblowers from victimization and bullying as a result of their actions.
All new staff receives training in this policy on whistle blowing as part of the induction training. Staff receives updated training as needed as policies change.