The Whistleblowing Policy seeks to promote a culture in which workers can raise concerns without fear of victimisation or recrimination, but in the knowledge that complaints shown to be malicious or vexatious will lead to disciplinary action.
The Whistleblowing Policy makes it clear that any attempt to thwart the whistleblower by a fellow worker will be treated as serious misconduct.Guidance for individuals Guidance for line managers
Policy statement and aims
Isle of Man Government is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, integrity and accountability. In line with that commitment members of staff are encouraged to raise serious concerns regarding any aspect of Government’s work through the appropriate channels without fear of reprisal.
This policy aims to:
- provide a coherent and consistent framework to enable Government staff to understand and implement procedures to enable compliance with the law and regulations
- enable members of staff to identify what constitutes a serious concern or wrongdoing
- enable and encourage members of staff to effectively report a potential breach
- provide avenues for members of staff to raise concerns and receive feedback on any action taken
- allow members of staff to take the matter further if they are dissatisfied with their line manager’s response
- reassure members of staff that they will be protected from reprisals or victimisation for whistleblowing in good faith
The Isle of Man Government values its people and seeks to support an environment promoting the three fundamental principles of corporate governance: openness, integrity and accountability. The responsibility for creating such an environment is shared by everyone and everyone has a role to play.
- This policy applies to all persons in the employment of any Statutory Board, Government Department or Office (all hereinafter referred to as 'the Government'), whether full-time, part-time, temporary, casual, agency worker, volunteer or consultant.
- The policy applies to all of Government’s activities as well as to all contractors and suppliers to Government of goods and/or services. The Clerk of Tynwald’s Office is not part of the Government, but has agreed that this policy will be applied in that Office as if it were. References to the Government should therefore be taken to be, in so far as the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office is concerned, the Tynwald Management Committee.
Government’s expectation and commitment to action
i. The Government requires that all members of staff and those with whom it deals:
- act honestly and with integrity at all times
- safeguard the Government’s resources and good reputation
- comply with the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law and regulations of all jurisdictions in which the Government operates, in respect of the lawful and responsible conduct of activities
ii. The Government commits to:
- setting out a clear Whistleblowing Policy and keeping it up to date
- making all members of staff aware of their responsibilities to adhere strictly to this policy at all times
- encouraging staff to be vigilant and to report any suspicions of wrongdoing, providing them with suitable channels of communication and ensuring sensitive information is treated appropriately
- providing information to all staff about how to report breaches and suspected breaches of this policy
- rigorously investigating instances of alleged wrongdoing and assisting police and other appropriate authorities in any resultant prosecution
- taking firm and vigorous action against any individuals involved in wrongdoing
- ensuring that staff members who blow the whistle in good faith are not victimised in line with the law and this policy
- It is the intention of this policy to make it clear that members of staff can speak out without fear of victimisation, discrimination or disadvantage.
- Nothing within this policy document overrides the statutory rights of any member of staff.
- The prevention, detection and reporting of wrongdoing are the responsibility of all those working for the organisation or under its control. All staff and members are required to avoid activity that breaches this policy.
- You must:
- ensure that you read, understand and comply with this policy
- raise concerns as soon as possible if you believe or suspect that a breach of this policy has occurred, or may occur in the future
- Whistleblowers are discouraged from approaching the media or politicians, as doing so may hamper an objective investigation if the matter extends into the public domain.
- As well as the possibility of civil and criminal prosecution, staff and members that breach this policy will face disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for gross misconduct.
i. The Government recognises that the decision to report a concern is not an easy one to make, not least because of the fear of reprisal from those being reported or other colleagues. The Government will not tolerate harassment or victimisation from members of staff and will take appropriate action, including the application of disciplinary procedures, to protect you where you make a disclosure in good faith. It will be the responsibility of the Designated Officer (See Appendix E) to ensure that appropriate action is taken against any person who places you, your colleagues or your family under any duress arising from any disclosure you may make in good faith.
ii. If your concerns cannot be confirmed by an investigation, no action will be taken against you, except where you raise a matter you know to be false and/or where you commit or attempt to commit a criminal offence contrary to the Employment Act 2006, the Official Secrets Act 1911 (an Act of Parliament) or the Bribery Act 2013.
iii. It may assist members of staff who are considering their obligations in making a disclosure to know that there are methods of protection available in certain circumstances which would give the person making the disclosure protection from their identity being made known. For example, if information gave rise to a prosecution, the usual approach taken by the Isle of Man Constabulary in practice, is to make an application to the Court for a Public Interest Immunity Order ('a PII Order'). A PII Order allows the Isle of Man Constabulary to refuse to disclose, in the criminal proceedings, the identity of the informant in a public court. In civil proceedings, injunctions or civil restraints can be used to ensure that protection is afforded where required. All such protection is in the ultimate discretion of the Court; however those protections are available if required.
i. While openness is the ideal, in practice members of staff may feel anxious about identifying themselves at the outset. This policy makes provision in such instances for confidentiality to be maintained, and for your name not to be revealed without your consent. It may be vital to proceedings that you make a statement to be included in evidence. Where possible your witness statement may be anonymised.
ii. Where confidentiality is promised it may be that others will try to deduce your identity, even though your name will not be disclosed. For this reason ‘open whistleblowing’ (where those involved know what the issue is and who has raised it) is encouraged as the best approach. This openness makes it easier for the organisation to assess the issues, plan how to investigate the matter, get more information, understand any hidden agendas, avoid witch hunts and minimise the risk of mistrust or paranoia developing.
i. This policy strongly encourages you to put your name to your allegation. Protection against reprisals offered under this policy depends upon the organisation knowing your identity. Concerns expressed anonymously are much more difficult to investigate as it is impossible to seek clarification or additional information.
ii. It may therefore not be possible to progress a concern that has been raised anonymously. Anonymous allegations may be treated as a tip-off, and may be followed up via a routine audit.
i. If you make an allegation in good faith, but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against you. If you have requested confidentiality, this will be maintained following the outcome of the investigation if you so request.
ii. If the investigation indicates that the disclosure made by you appears to have been vexatious, malicious or for personal gain, this is likely to result in appropriate action being taken against you under the disciplinary process.
Relationship with other procedures
i. The Anti-Bribery Procedure confirms that it is the duty of public officials to report bribery both to the Designated Officer as per the Whistleblowing procedure and to a Constable in the IOM Constabulary Financial Crime Unit. (See Anti-Bribery Policy 4.1 ‘Statutory Obligations: Duty of certain public officials to report bribery')
ii. Financial irregularities (Financial Regulations: FD11) must be reported to the Director, Audit Advisory Division, Treasury or to a Fraud Liaison Officer. The Whistleblowing procedure is intended to cover concerns that fall outside the scope of other procedures, such as:
iii. Corporate Complaints Procedures for public use: Departments, Boards and Offices have their own individual Complaints Procedures.
iv. Grievance Procedures: A grievance or private complaint is a dispute about the member of staff’s own employment position and has no additional public interest dimension. There are separate procedures in place for each staff group to enable individuals to lodge a grievance relating to their own employment.
v. Bullying, harassment and discrimination: Where a member of staff is concerned about the way they are being treated, they may raise the matter under the Fairness at Work Policy, which provides details of the procedure to be followed. Where a member of staff is concerned about the way that a colleague is being treated the individual may be encouraged to raise the matter through the Fairness at Work Policy and/or to seek help or advice from a union, a Contact Officer or Staff Welfare.
i. Each Accounting Officer has overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of this policy within their respective organisations and will report annually to the Chief Secretary on the incidence of cases reported, and their status or outcome in a form that does not breach the confidentiality agreement covered by this policy.
ii. As a matter of good governance, the Audit Advisory Division of the Treasury will undertake random checks on the incidence of cases reported and the outcome.
i. This policy does not affect your statutory rights. Your attention is drawn to the provisions of Part IV of the Employment Act 2006 which affords statutory protection to an employee who makes a protected disclosure.
ii. For any disclosure to qualify for statutory protection it must be made to those persons or bodies prescribed either in the Act or included on the list in the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2016, as appropriate. (‘Prescribed Persons’ are certain external bodies to which matters may properly be reported.)
iii. Your attention is drawn to the Department for Enterprise Guide entitled A Brief Guide to Whistleblowing December 2016. All procedures arising from this policy will be subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2002.
iv. For further information on legislation relevant to protected disclosures see Appendix D.
i. Legislation does not offer you general protection in all circumstances. For example you will not be protected if you commit an offence by making the disclosure in breach of any obligations you may have under the Official Secrets Act 1911 (an Act of Parliament which applies on the Isle of Man). Specifics of the offences under the Official Secrets Act, including but not limited to spying and harbouring spies, are included in that Act. This policy is not a full or authoritative statement of the law, but sets out the policy of the Government in respect of Whistleblowing, which if followed, is likely to ensure compliance with the Employment Act 2006.
ii. For further information with regard to your responsibility to make a disclosure and the circumstances under which you would be protected under legislation see A Brief Guide to Whistleblowing (December 2016) issued by the Department for Enterprise and also a table listing legislation relevant to protected disclosures in Appendix D.
Caveats – Misuse of the policy
- does not guarantee protection for any member of staff who owns up to any substantive misconduct, nor is it designed to allow those who defraud or damage the organisation to escape punishment
- does not guarantee members of staff a privileged position in any redundancy situation that may arise, nor should it automatically stop any managerial or disciplinary action that may already be under way
- restricts the scope of disciplinary action for misuse of the policy to cases where the concern is found to be false and it was raised in bad faith
Consultation and review
This policy has been drawn up in consultation with other employing authorities and staff organisations and will be reviewed every 5 years, subject to any changes precipitating an interim review.