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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Standards Committee : 11 April 2014

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Whistleblowing Policy and Procedures

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Standards Committee of the recent review undertaken of the Council's Whistleblowing Policy and associated procedure.

Recommendation

THAT Standards Committee notes the report attached at Appendix 1 of this report.

Reason for the Recommendation

To apprise Committee of the revised Whistleblowing Policy and reporting procedures.

 

Background

2.         A review of the Council's Whistleblowing Policy ('the Policy') and procedures was undertaken to reflect legislative changes, to update the contact details and to respond to the recommendations made following an internal audit.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         As detailed in Appendix 1 the revised Policy reflects the following:

  • The changes implemented by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013;
  • Guidance for workers and line managers to assist with reporting concerns under the Policy;
  • Protection for the 'Whistleblower' subject to the disclosure meeting the public interest test ;
  • Guidance for the 'Whistlblower' to raise their concerns externally, if appropriate;
  • Where to obtain free confidential and independent legal advice;
  • Guidance to assist both the worker and the manager in registering and progressing Whistleblowing concerns within the Council;
  • Confirmation of the protection arrangements that the 'Whistleblower' will achieve;
  • The approach to be undertaken in response to concerns and allegations raised anonymously including confidential reporting arrangements;
  • Provides assistance to workers and managers enabling them to distinguish between concerns which are personal and relate only to the individual rather than wrongdoing of a more general nature;
  • National guidance contained within the Department for Business Innovations and Skills document entitled "Blowing the Whistle to a Prescribed Person";
  • The Wales Audit Office leaflet "Are you concerned about wrongdoing where you work?"

4.         Having noted an amendment to change the word 'public' for 'protected' at paragraph 2 on page 3 of Appendix B to the Cabinet report, Cabinet resolved on 24 March 2014:

(1)          THAT the amended Whistleblowing Policy (including the Leaders change above) as attached at Appendix B to the report, its administration and the reporting procedures be approved.

(2)          THAT the draft Whistleblowing Policy be referred to a meeting of full Council for inclusion in the Council's Constitution.

(3)          THAT the additional information appended to the draft Policy to assist workers and their line managers who may be working under a collaborative agreement to raise Whistleblowing concerns with the appropriate organisation when the employment or the service responsibility falls outside of that of the Council be noted.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

5.         It is intended that the register for the confidential recording of Whistleblowing concerns will be included within the Council's existing Oracle/CRM system and be administered within existing personnel establishments.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

6.         There are no sustainability or climate change implications associated with this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

7.         The law on Whistleblowing was previously contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996 which was amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and affords employment protection to any worker who makes a "protected disclosure". The legislation provides protection to the worker against victimisation and additional protection for those workers who report their concerns outside of the authority where there is no existing Whistleblowing Policy or effective whistleblowing arrangements in existence within the authority.

8.         The draft Policy takes account of the changes necessary to respond to the requirements within the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

9.         The Council has a commitment in its Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy to confidential reporting which is afforded equal consideration within the draft Whistleblowing Policy.

Crime and Disorder Implications

10.      The Whistleblowing Policy will provide the means for all workers to raise suspicions of any concerns including potential criminal matters through an open and transparent process without fear of repercussions.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

11.      The Human Resources team will support the application of this policy with advice to staff on this or any other linked policy such as the managing misconduct procedure.

12.      The Council incorporates the statutory equalities duties which apply to all its activities into policies and services as appropriate, as set out in the Council's Corporate Equality Strategy. We also recognise that in our society, groups and individuals continue to be unfairly discriminated against and we acknowledge our responsibilities to actively promote good community relations, equality of opportunity and combat discrimination in all its forms.

13.      During the development and consideration of any protocols the impact of equality of access will be considered, for example ensuring that all workers are able to submit a concern, in the manner which best suits their individual needs.

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.      This policy will provide the means for workers to support the Council's strategic core value to achieve transparency so that the decisions of the Council and the application of the policies are open and provide a means for concerns to be raised where necessary.

15.      In addition, the Policy will form a key element to the Council's Community Leadership objective so that the community/services users may retain their confidence in how decisions are made and are proud to live in the Vale.

Policy Framework and Budget

16.      The overview of the current policy is a matter for Standards Committee. The policy decision is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.      None for this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.      None for this report. Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) is the relevant Scrutiny Committee for the Cabinet report.

Background Papers

Cabinet report dated 24 March 2014 entitled 'Whistleblowing Policy and Procedures'.

 

Contact Officer

Debbie Marles - Head of Legal Services

01446 709402 email: DMarles@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk

 

Officers Consulted

The Council's Corporate Management Team and Operational Manager Legal Services were consulted regarding the report submitted to Cabinet on 24 March 2014.

 

Responsible Officer:

Debbie Marles - Head of Legal Services (and Monitoring Officer)

 

 

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