Whistleblowing is a term used when an individual discloses information relating to malpractice or wrongdoing and/or the covering up of malpractice or wrongdoing. The malpractice or wrongdoing is often committed by the individual’s employer, although this is not necessarily the case.

Whistleblowing is distinct from both complaints and employment disputes.

Complaints

An expression of personal dissatisfaction

Employment Disputes

Where a worker has a dispute about his or her own employment position or contract. If you are experiencing such a dispute you should take this up with your employer or another responsible body. We cannot take action over grievances of this nature.

An individual may decide to make a whistleblowing disclosure to use to prevent harm or to hold an organisation to account.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act

If a worker has made a disclosure which is protected under PIDA:

  • The worker has the right not to be subject to detriment by his or her employer because of that protected disclosure
  • The worker will not breach his or her employment contract in making that protected disclosure

Workers include employees, contractors and members of temporary agency staff and protection under the legislation is a matter between the worker and the employer and we do not have a formal role in this.

The Content of the Disclosure

Protected disclosures can only be made where the information being disclosed tends to show that:

  • A criminal offence has been, is being or is likely to be committed
  • A person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation
  • A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occuring or is likely to occur
  • The health and safety of an individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered
  • The environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged
  • Information relating to any of the above has been or is likely to be deliberately concealed

Further Requirements for Disclosures to SFEDI Awards

PIDA gives protection to whistleblowers for disclosures to a number of different people. Disclosures can be made to employers, to legal advisers, to Ministers of the Crown, to a number of prescribed regulators (for certain purposes) and to others in certain circumstances.

SFEDI Awards falls into the other category where we are responsible for the maintaining of the integrity and quality of both regulated and none regulated programmes and qualifications awarded under our name.

If a worker makes a disclosure to us, that disclosure may be protected under PIDA if:

  • The disclosure is made in good faith
  • The worker reasonably believes that the information disclosed, and any allegations he or she makes, are substantially true
  • The worker reasonably believes that the disclosure relates to a matter for which SFEDI Awards is responsible for

But the disclosure will not be a protected disclosure if the worker making it:

  • Commits a criminal offence in making it
  • Has received the information in the course of providing legal advice (legally privileged information)

Normally, you may want to raise your concern with your employer first, perhaps through your line manager. If you do not feel that this is appropriate you could consider approaching senior management within your organisation.

If you feel that a concern you have raised internally has not been appropriately addressed or if you feel unable to raise your concerns internally you may want to make a disclosure to someone outside of your organisation.

Key examples of whistleblowing disclosures being made to us include:

  • A worker for a centre making a disclosure about that organisation’s malpractice or failure to comply with its approved centre status requirements
  • A learner or parent/guardian making a disclosure about a centre’s malpractice or failure to comply with its approved centre status requirements
  • Another Awarding Organisation making a disclosure about a centre’s malpractice or failure to comply with its approved centre status requirements
  • A Regulator┬ámaking a disclosure about a centre’s malpractice or failure to comply with its approved centre status requirements

 

Centre Staff

If you work for a centre, which is delivering SFEDI Awards programmes, including both regulated and none regulated programmes, and you wish to make a whistleblowing disclosure to someone outside of your organisation, you should make your disclosure to us.

You may also wish to contact the Regulator and, in these circumstances, you should see the appropriate website for the Regulator for further information regarding how to make a disclosure. Please be aware the Regulator will normally ask the relevant Awarding Organisation to investigate and report on the subject of disclosure in the first instance.

 

Getting Advice on How Best to Proceed

If you are unsure as to how best to proceed, consider doing the following:

  • Contact Public Concern at Work on 0207 404 6609 or by email at helpline@pcaw.co.uk. Further information is available at Public Concern at Work’s website which you can access at http://www.pcaw.co.uk
  • Approach your union or professional body
  • Get independent legal advice

If you choose to make a whistleblowing disclosure to us and have provided contact details we will send you an initial acknowledgement that we have received your disclosure.

We will normally ask you to provide as much of the evidence you have seen as possible to support your disclosure.

We will look into anonymous whistleblowing disclosures however, it may not always be possible to investigate or substantiate anonymous disclosures.

We will consider each disclosure of information sensitively and carefully, and decide upon an appropriate response. We may share with third parties information received in the disclosure where we consider it necessary to do so.

In most cases, we will keep you updated as to what action is being taken in response to your disclosure. We will normally send you an update within ten working days of receiving your disclosure, but this may take longer if the issue is particularly complex. Please be aware that any update will not necessarily detail the intricate parts of any investigation activities or the identities of those involved within the investigation and the findings and actions to be taken as a result of any investigation activities will be at the determination of SFEDI Awards and our Regulators or at the requirement of law enforcement agencies and may not be shared publicly dependent on the requirements to meet our legal obligations.

Confidentiality

We will always endeavour to keep a whistleblower’s identity confidential where asked to do so, although we cannot guarantee this and we may need to disclose your identity to:

  • The police, fraud prevention agencies or other law enforcement agencies (to investigate or prevent crime, including fraud)
  • The courts (in connection with court proceedings)
  • Another person to whom we are required by law to disclose your identity

A whistleblower should also recognise that he or she may be identifiable by others due to the nature or circumstances of the disclosure.

Our preferred method of receiving whistleblowing disclosures is in writing to our Head Office made out care of the SFEDI Awards Chief Executive. The address to send whistleblowing disclosures to is whistleblowing@sfediawards.com.