GUIDE TO THE WHISTLE-BLOWING ACT

Section 4

Draft Whistle-blowing Policy

A personal note from the Director General (XXX Department) (signed by all A/Dir and upward, conveying management commitment) making it clear that XXX Department is committed to the fight against fraud and corruption in XXX Department whether the perpetrators are internal or external. That the Whistle-blowing Policy and procedure is part of XXX Departments commitment to working towards a culture of openness and transparency. It could be added that confidentiality will be maintained, and that nobody will be penalised for disclosing in good faith, information that might be in XXX Departments interest.

Purpose of this policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide a means by which staff are able to raise concerns with the appropriate line management, or specific appointed persons in XXX Department, where they have reasonable grounds for believing that there is fraud and corruption within XXX Department.

The Protected Disclosures Act, Act 26 of 2000, which became effective in February 2001, provides protection to employees for disclosures made without malice and in good faith, in defined circumstances.

In terms of the Protected Disclosures Act employees can blow the whistle on fraud and corruption in the working environment without the fear of suffering an occupational detriment as defined by the Act. XXX management encourages staff to raise matters of concern responsibly through the procedures laid down in this policy document.

Scope of the policy

The policy is designed to deal with concerns raised in relation issues relating to fraud, corruption, misconduct and malpractice within XXX Department. The policy will not apply to personal grievances, which will be dealt with under existing procedures on grievance, discipline and misconduct. Details of these procedures are obtainable from the Human Resources Department.
The policy covers all genuine concerns raised including:
• Financial misconduct
• Health and safety risks
• Environmental damage
• Unfair discrimination
• Corruption and misconduct
• Attempts to suppress or conceal any information relating to any of the above

If in the course of investigation any concern raised in relation to the above matters appears to the investigator to relate more appropriately to grievance or discipline, those procedures will be evoked.

Who can raise a concern?

Any member of staff who has a reasonable belief that there is corruption or misconduct relating to any of the protected matters specified above may raise a concern under the procedure detailed.

Concerns must be raised without malice, in good faith and not for personal gain and the individual must reasonably believe that the information disclosed, and any allegations contained in it, are substantially true.

The issues raised may relate to a manager, another member of staff , a group of staff, the individuals own section or a different section/ division of XXX Department. The perpetrator can be an outsider, an employee, a manager, a customer or an ex-employee. You may even be aware of a system or procedure in use, which may cause XXX to transgress legal obligations.

Culture of openness

XXX commits itself to encouraging a culture that promotes openness. This will be done by:
• Involving employees, listening to their concerns and encouraging the appropriate use of this policy/process on whistle-blowing promoted by Senior Management. This policy will be issued to all existing employees and to each new employee
• Educating/training/informing/explaining to employees what constitutes fraud, corruption and malpractice and its effect on XXX. Promoting awareness of standards of appropriate and accepted employee conduct and establishing a common understanding of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour.
• Encouraging unions to endorse and support this approach
• Having a policy to combat fraud
• Annual reporting to XXX on the number of fraud/corruption matters reported and the outcome

Our assurances to you

Your safety
Management is committed to this policy. XXX will ensure that any member of staff who makes a disclosure in the above mentioned circumstances will not be penalised or suffer any occupational detriment for doing so. Occupational detriment as defined by the Act includes being dismissed, suspended, demoted, transferred against your will, harassed or intimidated, refused a reference or being provided with an adverse reference, as a result of your disclosure.

If you raise a concern in good faith in terms of this policy, you will not be at risk of losing your job or suffering any form of retribution as a result.

This assurance is not extended to employees who maliciously raise matters they know to be untrue. A member of staff who does not act in good faith or who makes an allegation without having reasonable grounds for believing it to be substantially true, or who makes it maliciously or vextiously, may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Your confidence
In view of the protection offered to a member of staff raising a bona fide concern, it is preferable that the individual puts his/her name to the disclosure. XXX will not tolerate the harassment or victimisation of anyone raising a genuine concern.

However, we recognise that you may nonetheless wish to raise a concern in confidence under this policy. If you ask us to protect your identity by keeping your confidence, we will not disclose it without your consent. However, we do expect the same confidentiality regarding the matter from you.

If the situation arises where we are not able to resolve the concern without revealing your identity (for example where your evidence is needed in court), we will discuss with you whether and how we can proceed. Accordingly, while we will consider anonymous reports, this policy is not appropriate for concerns raised anonymously.

How we will handle the matter
Once you have told us of your concern, we will look into it to assess initially what action should be taken. This may involve an internal inquiry or a more formal investigation.

The issue you raise will be acknowledged within 7 working days. If it is requested, an indication of how the organisation proposes to deal with the matter and a likely time scale could be provided. If the decision is made not to investigate the matter reasons will be given. We will tell you who would be handling the matter, how you can contact him / her and whether your further assistance may or will be needed. When you raise a concern, you may be asked how you think the matter might best be resolved. If you do have any personal interest in the matter, we do ask that you tell us at the outset. If your concern falls more properly within the Grievance Procedure we will tell you. While the purpose of this policy is to enable us to investigate possible malpractice and take appropriate steps to deal with it, we will give you as much feedback as we properly can. If requested, we will confirm our response to you in writing. Please note, however, that we may not be able to tell you the precise action we take where this could infringe a duty of confidence owed by us to someone else.

How to raise a concern internally
Step one: If you have a concern about malpractice, we hope you will feel able to raise it first with your manager/ supervisor. This may be done verbally or in writing.

Step two: If you feel unable to raise the matter with your manager, for whatever reason, please raise the matter either with:
(For example): Human Resources: Assistant Director; Contact details
OR (For example): Internal Audit: Assistant Director; Contact details
Please say if you wish to raise the matter in confidence so that they can make appropriate arrangements.

Step three: If these channels have been followed and you still have concerns, or if you feel that the matter is so serious that you cannot discuss it with any of the above, please contact:
(For example): Director General; Contact details,
Should you have exhausted these internal mechanisms or where you have substantial reason to believe that there would be a cover-up or that evidence will be destroyed or that the matter might not he handled properly, you may raise the matter in good faith with a member of the Cabinet or Executive Council in this province:
Name; Contact details

Independent advice
If you are unsure whether to use this procedure or you want independent advice at any stage, you may contact your personal legal adviser, or your labour organisation, or the independent legal advice centre ODAC on it’s toll free helpline on 0800 525 352. Their legally trained staff can give you free confidential advice at any stage about how to raise a concern about serious malpractice at work.

External contacts
Option 1: While we hope this policy gives you the reassurance you need to raise such matters internally, we recognise that there may be circumstances where you can properly report matters to outside bodies, such as regulators or the police. ODAC will be able to advise you on such an option and on the circumstances in which you may be able to contact an outside body safely.

Option 2: While we hope this policy gives you the reassurance you need to raise such matters internally, we would rather you raised a matter with the appropriate regulator than not at all. Provided you are acting in good faith, you can also contact:
The Public Protector; (Contact details) The Auditor-General; (Contact details)

If you are dissatisfied
If you are unhappy with our response, remember you can go to the other levels and bodies detailed in this policy. While we cannot guarantee that we will respond to all matters in the way that you might wish, we commit ourselves to handle the matter fairly and properly.

By using this policy, you will help us to achieve this.

The Protected Disclosures Act

Download a copy of the Act