Whistleblowing: reporting inappropriate behaviour
The Church takes seriously any abuse, misconduct, poor practice and fraud that may take place in the workplace, and it places importance on maintaining high standards of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability within our Church communities. The Church will, therefore, support all workers and volunteers, temporary staff, agency staff, contractors and students on placement who make a disclosure (blowing the whistle) where the disclosure is a genuine concern made in good faith.
Whistleblowing is when someone raises a concern about wrongdoing involving a dangerous or illegal activity in their organisation. It is an important process for identifying risks to people. Individuals are allowed, by law (The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998), to make a ‘protected disclosure'. This provides protection against victimisation or dismissal for workers. Currently the law does not apply to volunteers but it is good practice for charities to recognise that volunteers face many of the same challenges as paid staff when seeking to raise concerns.
The aim of the policy is to enable and encourage workers and volunteers to raise genuine concerns about possible wrongdoing at work without fear of reprisal and to reassure workers and volunteers that such matters will be dealt with seriously and effectively.
It is important to recognise that whistleblowing is separate from other policies in the Church, e.g. discipline and grievance procedures, safeguarding procedures and complaints procedures.
To help you decide whether your concern should be raised via the Whistleblowing Policy or other policies and procedures of the Church, please see the case studies below. They are real examples, but the names have been changed.
In the case study examples below (courtesy of Protect, a UK whistleblowing charity), you will see that, in most circumstances, workers tried to raise their concern with the organisation internally in the first instance. Their concerns were either dismissed or not dealt with effectively and, in some cases, the worker suffered detriment as a result of raising the concern. In these cases, the individuals took their concerns to an external person or body when internal processes had been exhausted, or, if exceptional circumstances warranted it (e.g. threat of harm to self).
Click on the headings below for more information.
Criminal (theft) and miscarriage of justice
Felix (not his real name) worked in a care home. He and some of his colleagues believed that a manager was stealing from residents by recording money as being given to particular residents when they had received none. Felix raised his concerns with the owners of the home and an investigation quickly found that Felix was right. The manager was dismissed and reported to the police. Unfortunately, working relationships became tense as the manager’s close colleagues objected to Felix’s actions. Felix was suspended over false allegations that he had mistreated the residents.
Jin (not his real name) was the personnel manager for a family-run engineering firm. In the past, the family managers of the company had used company money to pay for private work done on their own homes. Jin had let this pass as it was a family business, but two employees recently told him that the scale of these private works was becoming extensive. Jin was worried about raising this to the Board of non-executive directors because the company managers had a well-earned reputation as hard men in the local community. Jin was advised to raise his concerns with the family managers but decided instead to resign and raised his concerns once he had secured new employment.
Health and safety
Helen (not their real name) worked as a hardware trainer at various sites across the UK. She would train the staff on how to use the equipment safely. Helen became increasingly alarmed by the dangerous equipment she saw on site and how staff were being subject to unsafe working conditions. This included observing defective, broken and damaged equipment. Helen raised these concerns internally with her line manager. However, these concerns were dismissed.
Niamh (not her real name) was a teacher in a special needs school and had safeguarding concerns surrounding the behaviour of one of the other teachers at the school. Niamh witnessed a teacher showing her colleagues a sexually explicit image of one of the students. The same teacher also spoke inappropriately about her own sex life in front of another student.
Niamh raised her concerns internally and the teacher was suspended for several months. Once elapsed, the teacher returned to the school and resumed her position. Furthermore, Niamh was disciplined by her employer for not having raised her concerns sooner.
Shortly thereafter, Niamh resigned because she did not wish to continue working alongside the other teacher. She wrote to the Education Authority, which reassured her that her concerns had been dealt with. Niamh was frustrated with the handling of her concerns and believed that safeguarding issues would remain so long as the teacher remained at the school. Niamh believed that by disciplining her, her employer had subjected her to negative treatment for raising her concerns.
If you are in doubt about which policy or procedure should apply in particular circumstances please contact:
- Human Resources if the matter relates to a CSC employee
- Your Safeguarding Co-ordinator and /or the Safeguarding Service if the matter relates to a disclosure of harm or abuse
- Your Session Clerk if the matter is a complaint which can be dealt with under the Church's complaints procedure