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Whistle Blower Policy
Define Whistleblower Meaning & Definition. What is Whistleblowing in Whistle Blowing Policy in Business
Define who is Whisteblower ?
What is Whistle Blower policy meaning and whistleblowing procedure in business :
In an organization whistle blowing policy means that the company gives freedom and allows their employees to report or telling the management the Facts and putting a Stop on all unethical immoral or illegal work. Whistle Blowing policy meaning and its objective is to create the open work environment practice within the organization to encourage employee to raise the voice on wrongdoings and enhance the belongingness.
Types of Whistleblowing
Some benefits of having a whistleblower in workplace and the same can be explained as:
Disclaimer: The content prepared has been created with greatest care.
n. Fraud, misrepresentation, any kind of theft or abuse of authority, getting hold of confidential Information any kind of discrimination is included under the whistleblower policy.
5. Whistleblower complaint:
A whistleblower complaint may be defined as complaint wherein whistleblower
(person raising the complaint) has observed that an employee , associate etc. have breached or may have breached the ethical code of business conduct, accounting, auditing matters etc. Raising concern against any wrongdoing which has been done or can be done will protect the company's reputation. It is the responsibility of all the employees, vendors, contractors, stakeholder etc. to bring into notice any wrongdoing as soon as possible. All the complaints must be raised to ombudsperson.
6. The Principle of reporting:
If an employee observes that there is the violation of the code of conduct, he /she must immediately inform their superior. An employee who has any doubt that any illegal activity is happening or can happen should inform superior or legal department
7. The Protection is given to a whistle blower:
As per the whistleblowing procedure, there must not be any revenge against the employee who has raised the concern for breach of any code of conduct or integrity issue. Employee raising concern should not be penalized. In case of retaliation, strict disciplinary action will be taken.. Such issues can be raised to HR or ombudsperson
8. Areas covered under whistle blowing policy:
Below mentioned list gives some examples of the area where the breach of the code of conduct is observed. However, there can be reasons beyond the list as well:
a. Any kind of Harassment or discrimination
b. Sharing of confidential information
c. Any breach of privacy
d. Any kind of Fraud or Fraudulent
e. Misrepresentation of financial data
f. Any kind of illegal activity
h. Invalid promotion
i. Illegal sales activity
j. Conflict of interest
k. Trading within the company
l. Illegal competitive behaviour
m. Improper use of company assets.
9. Whistle blowing process :
The whistle blowing process has been explained in detail and is mentioned as below:
a. The whistleblower can raise the concern in writing or verbally to the ombudsperson. The complaint can be sent through email or verbally through the telephone. However, even for verbal complain a written draft is prepared by ombudsperson.
b. All complaints received by ombudsperson or the audit committee which is constituted by ombudsperson shall check whether any breach of the code of conduct has happened or not. In case of the review by the audit committee, if any illegal activity has happened committee can recommend that its whistleblowing at work complaint or not. The ombudsperson or audit committee will respond to the concern within 2 days of receiving the complaint.
c. The person who is a whistleblower may or may not disclose his/her identity.
d. Even in case of whistleblower has not revealed the identity , the complaint will be taken with utmost seriousness. For better investigation it is suggested to disclosed identity, the final decision however is taken by the whistleblower. The identity of whistleblower is kept confidential in all cases. This is to be noted that any false allegations on any employee by other employees, vendor or contractor or any other stakeholder will result in strict disciplinary action as per the rules framed under the whistleblowing policy in the workplace.
e. Once the investigation is given to the audit committee by the ombudsperson the audit committee will perform the below mentioned tasks:
1. Will be in contact with employee, vendor, and stakeholder to get the necessary information to carry out further investigation.
2. Will discuss the steps needed internally for investigation of the complaint.
3. It is advisable to keep all information confidential during the investigation. No information is shared outside either by the whistleblower or by the audit committee.
4. This secrecy is maintained to protect the uprightness of the whistleblower process and investigation.
5. It is the responsibility of the ombudsperson to share the status and findings of investigation with the board of director. The final report must contain all the details and documentation deemed fit or necessary.
f. The whistle blowing process allows the whistleblower in the company can raise their concern to their manager or head of the department. However, they can also contact the following mentioned persons:
a. Human resource
b. Head of the department
c. Legal department
d. Compliance Head
f. Management committee members
g. In case of urgent situation, an employee can write directly to the chairman of the audit committee
h. Any complaint received by HR will be sent to the director of the human resource for action.
10. Management assurance:
a. The Identity of the whistleblower: A whistleblower is a person who raises the concern the revelation of identity depends upon the choice of whistleblower. Also as discussed in the previous paragraph the identity is kept confidential. It is shared only in case it becomes necessary for the investigation purpose or as per the demand of the business.
b. No Retaliation: The company makes sure that there will be no retaliation action against any employee who has raised any concern in good faith.
11. Corporate ombudsperson:
The corporate ombudsperson has been given responsibility to deal with the investigation process for each concern raised by the employee. He/she is also responsible for the management of compliance issue within the organisation. He/ she is responsible to check that the audit committee is investigating the case while abiding by the internal policies and procedure.
12. Investigation Process :
Any concern raised by an employee for breach of the ethical code of business will be taken under investigation by the corporate ombudsperson and the audit committee as per the process defined above in the policy. The employee, vendor, stakeholder against whom the concern is raised if found guilty a strict disciplinary action will be taken. Below mentioned steps are followed during whistle blowing process:
A. In the first step, the employee/ vendor/ contractor raises the concern to the corporate ombudsperson with all relevant documents and proofs as early as possible.
B. An audit committee is formed by the corporate ombudsperson carrying minimum 8 persons with expertise in dealing with legal compliance. This committee is formed within the company. The audit committee needs to start their investigation process within 2 days of receipt of the complaint.
C. The audit committee must start the inquiry and come up with the report within 15 to 45 days from the receipt of the initial complaint.
D. The audit committee must suggest the corrective action which needs to be taken by the immediate reporting manager or head of the department for implementation. In case the employee who is found to be guilty of any illegal wrongdoing will be penalised as prescribed by ombudsperson and will be implemented by HR.
E. The whistleblower will be revealed with the status and final findings after the investigation is done.
13. Role and Responsibilities:
Following the regulations guided by the Whistleblowing at work the roles and responsibilities of employees, stakeholders, ombudsman, audit committee and CEO are explained as follows:
1. The first and foremost task of the employee is to bring into notice of the company in case any illegal activity is done in the company or about to happen in the company. The employee must have proper evidence to raise any concern.
2. To work in collaboration with the audit committee with complete confidentiality.
3. The policy is meant to raise concern which is of serious nature and is actually happening. Any false allegation will result in serious disciplinary action.
4. An Employee who is whistleblower if not satisfied with the investigation done by the ombudsperson, he/she can directly approach the chairman of the audit committee.
1. To make sure that the whistleblower policy is implemented in the company.
2. In case the ombudsperson through investigation comes to a conclusion that any illegal act or wrongdoing has been done, the case can be closed by ombudsperson.
3. All the inquiry details must be properly implemented.
4. Appointment of the audit committee to carry out investigation further.
5. To handover, the report received to the board of directors, CEO and director HR.
6. To share the final findings with the whistleblower, with a gesture of thanks for protecting the company's reputation.
7. All safety measures have been followed for the protection of the whistleblower.
c. Audit Committee
1. To carry on the investigation in a transparent way.
2. To make sure that complete findings have been done by the committee.
3. To make sure each and every information is kept confidential.
4. To finally decide after investigation if any wrongdoing has been done or not, in case it is done then by whom?
5. To ensure an appropriate action being taken against the dismissal and preventive measures.
6. Documentation of complete report.
7. Submit the final findings and report to the ombudsperson.
1. To share the final report with the statutory board.
2. To cooperate fully with the investigation team.
3. Maintain complete confidentiality.
4. To make sure the audit committee and ombudsperson have taken necessary action against the wrongdoers.
5. Be known with the final conclusion of the investigation team.
All complaints by whistleblower should be confidential as per the rules and regulations under whistleblowing guidelines. People involved in the process should make sure that they do not share any information outside.
Maintain secrecy of entire matter.
The matter can be discussed only if being asked to do by management for investigation purpose.
Should not keep any documentation related to investigation unattended.
Also, the whistleblower name can be revealed only if
1. Whistleblower confirms that he/she will be identified and has no issue related to identification.
2. Identification is one of the requirements to carry on the investigation further.
3. According to laws identification is required.
15. Retention of documents:
1. As per the whistle blowing policy and procedure, it is the responsibility of the ombudsperson to maintain documents needed for the complaint received from the whistleblower.
2. All the details related to complaints are maintained for reporting purpose.
3. All the documents are retained for a period of 8 years.
Whistle blower Policy for Employees
In order to maintain higher standard of ethical conduct our organisation provides a broad way to employees to raise their concern against any kind of fraud, scam, and any misrepresentation of data in case they come across any of them without fear or unfair treatment. This is the main objective of whistle blower policy or whistle blowing at work.
- This policy provides a platform to employees to voice their concern on any improper act. However a certain set of whistle blowing procedure should be followed as per the whistle blowing at workplace.
- It also encourages employees to share their concern timely and also to ensure there is timely response from the company on the same.
- To promote Lawful conduct.
Scope: The scope of whistle blower policy is to define the actions for raising a concern, and the protection provided to the person raising the concern. The set of whistle blowing procedures to be followed by the corporate whistle blower (Whistle blower definition explained in policy later) as a concern is raised and the responsibilities of different associates. In all cases company reserves the right whether a case requires investigation or not, if required then how it has to be followed as per the whistle blower policy.
Regular and contractual employees of the company
Eligibility: All employees of an organisation are covered under whistle blower policy template It includes
- suppliers or agency
Disciplinary actions: It means any action that is being taken against an employee if any kind of improper act like fraud, scam etc. identified during course of investigation. It includes
However it is not limited to warning, suspension. Disciplinary action varies from case to case basis.
Whistle blower definition: It means a person who raises his/ her voice against any wrong doing within the organisation or outside the organisation. It defines whistle blower.
Subject: A person against whom the allegations are made or evidences collected during an investigation.
Audit committee: It means a person or group of persons who carry out investigation against the case that is raised by the whistle blower. They are the ones who recommend disciplinary action.
Good Faith: It means the right intent with which the unethical or improper act is raised. It will lose its meaning in case some false accusations are made and if in case the alleged practice lacks facts or personal knowledge.
Whistle officer: A whistle officer is generally the company secretary.
Investigation team: It may be defined as a team who carry out investigation of protected disclosure.
Employee: Employee means employee working in the company.
Protected disclosure: It is defined as concern raised by written communication made in honest intentions that disclose unethical activity.
Chairman: Chairman means the chairman of whistle blower committee.
Whistle committee: The committee constituted to deal with Complaints under this Policy.
Following are considered under the reportable matters:
1. Breach of contract
2. Misuse of Authority
3. Misrepresentation of company data
4. Negligence towards public health and safety
5. Misrepresentation of financial records
6. Any illegal act
7. Sharing of confidential information
8. Misuse of company assets
9. Non compliance with the company authority.
10. Non compliance with the code of conduct.
11.Disclosing confidential information with outsiders ex. competitors
12. Unethical practice like bribe given or bribe taken
13. Misuse of company powers
14. Theft of confidential information’s
Policy details: It is the responsibility of all employees to raise the concern in case they come across any unethical practice. Failing to comply with it will be considered as immoral behaviour. What is whistle blowing as already been explained in the whistle blowing template above.
In order to make whistle blower policy a success it is necessary that the company will take care of following:
- To make sure that whistle blower do not undergo any unfair treatment and is not exploited
- Complete confidentiality of matter
- To take adequate step in case of unfair treatment or exploitation
- Take stringent actions, if any evidence related material is destroyed.
In case the investigation team reaches a conclusion that the concern raised was false and was made with malicious intentions, in such case strong disciplinary action is taken against the employee raising the concern. However there may be case when any concern is raised which might not need any investigation but it has been raised with honest intentions in such case no action will be raised against the employee.
The complaints raised by a whistle blower (define Whistle blower explained above) should not be confused with grievances. This policy excludes any complain made against superior/ subordinate relationship issues, dissatisfaction in job profile, issues related to favouritism etc. Such issues are not covered under the whistle blower policy. Any external matter like non receipt of payment etc is also excluded from this policy. Day to day operations problems shall be dealt normally under grievance handling by HR. What is whistle blowing as already been explained so far. Whistle blowing policy meaning is completely different from grievance handling.
Raising a concern:
Whenever an employee comes across any improper act it is requested to make the concern in writing in order to assure better understanding of the issues. The report must contain all facts and information and there should not be any assumptions. It is not necessary for the whistleblower to prove the complaint but it is expected that the complain must have facts. The details are mentioned in whistle blowing process.
Responsibilities of a whistle blower
- To bring to notice any improper practice happening in the organisation which employee whistle blower comes across. However while reporting the matter whistle blower must have evidences against the improper practice. This is as per the whistle blower policy meaning.
- There should not be any delay in reporting such matter.
- All the rules and regulations as mentioned in the policy must be followed while reporting an improper act. It has been explained in what is whistle blower policy?
- A whistle blower must produce genuine evidences against the improper act reported by him/her as explained in define whistle blower.
- Any false allegations by whistle blower may attract disciplinary actions. As explained in define whistle blower.
- It is must for whistle blower to maintain the confidentiality of the matter till it is completely resolved. This is expected from employee whistle blower.
- A whistle blower is supposed to provide evidences which must have a ground for initiation of investigation. However he /she must try getting the evidences which they have access to. Company cannot guarantee any protection in case they try getting it which they do not have access to.
Responsibilities of Investigation team:
- The investigation team is supposed to carry out investigation in a very transparent way.
- To maintain confidentiality of the information.
- To make sure investigation is done thoroughly to find the facts.
- Keep all documentation safe and secure.
- Recommendation of disciplinary action
- Submission of documents evidences to whistle Officer.
Responsibilities of Whistle officer:
- The whistle officer is supposed to maintain the confidentiality of the matter.
- To keep all information and evidences safe and secure.
- To act as secretary to ombudsperson or arbiter.
- To carry out non biased enquiry.
- Proposal of disciplinary action, if any.
- Preparation of final report.
Responsibilities of an audit committee:
- To review and approve the whistleblower process.
- To analyse cases received under whistle blower policy.
- In case similar kind of concern is raised against an employee repeatedly, in such case audit committee can take strong disciplinary action which may even lead to termination.
In case it is determined that an improper act has happened, the following actions can be taken:
- Any employee found accountable of an improper act will be subject to disciplinary actions, it may even lead to termination of employee.
- Policies will be formed to ensure that any such violation can be perceived in an early stage.
- In case an employee is trying to destroy any of the evidences, then disciplinary action will be taken against the employee who may even lead to termination.
Disclosure of improper act:
The disclosure of any improper act by the whistle blower may be done while sharing or hiding their names. However in case name is kept hidden the company will decide whether to take up the investigation or not. It will depend on how seriously the improper act has been raised by the whistle blower when identity is hidden.
Reporting of improper act:
The reporting of improper act will be done either by sending an email or writing a letter to the whistle officer. All the critical information must be provided rightly by the whistleblower.
Format of raising a concern:
While raising a concern it is generally preferred that it should be given in writing. The whistle blower ideally should mention the name and contact details.
Summary of the improper act, all those employees/ persons involved in improper act, time and place of occurrence of the act.
Protection of whistle blower:
1. The whistle blower is given protection to safeguard him/her from any form of retaliation like reprisal or any kind of exploitation.
2. Neither the whistle blower be transferred nor demoted during course of investigation.
3. Protection is given to whistle blower provided that the disclosure is made with honest intentions.
4. Identity of whistle blower is kept confidential unless the whistle blower has no issues in being identified or identification is needed as per the law.
5. Whistle blower is provided protection from any kind of retaliation.
6. Whistle blower who comes across any kind of retaliation may file a complaint to whistle officer. Strong disciplinary action taken against the person who retaliates.
7. The improper act as raised by whistle blower is true.
8. No false allegations made by whistle blower.
9. No allegations are made for personal interest.
10. Strict disciplinary action will be taken against those who try to exploit the whistle blower.
11. Any other person/ employee supporting the investigation will also be protected like the whistle blower.
Rights of a subject:
- It is the right of the subject to be perceived.
- It also has the right to be informed of the outcome of investigation.
Method to be followed for raising a concern:
It is generally preferred that the concern must be raised in writing. It can be done by writing an email or in the form of a letter. Any kind of concern related to senior management should be sent directly to CMD. The CMD will constitute a committee to investigate the improper act related to senior management. However in case of employees other then the senior management, the company secretary will be the whistle officer of the company. However to carry out the investigation HR head is also involve to determine whether
Improper act has happened or not. The process Owner for whistle blower policy is the company secretary.
To carry out the investigation the whistle officer receives the concern through email/letter as preferred by whistle blower. The whistle officer along with company secretary and HR head examine whether concern raised is improper act or not. It is then communicated to the whistle blower. The whistle officer keeps records of the findings and communicates with the whistle blower.
If any improper act has happened the whistle blower along with the whistle committee investigates as per the policy. The whistle committee comprises of HR Head, Internal audit, 1 employee from department where improper act has happened.
Sometimes it might be the possibility that internal investigation does not help and it needs to be audited externally as required by the law. In such case the whistle blower raises the concern to the external authority and wait for the report.
The employee who has committed the improper act is also informed as investigation can’t be progressed without information. Investigation generally happens with interviews and with documents as and when required.
The whistle committee conduct the investigation and submits the report within 60 days of receipt of concern. If it is a criminal offence, Police is informed on the same. The Whistle officer, policy owner and CMD of the company will decide the action to be taken against the employee who has committed improper act on recommendation from whistle blower committee and keep whistle blower informed on the same.
Documentation and retention of documents:
The whistle officer will maintain all documentation. It includes all the documents provided by the complainant or any other document as received during investigation. All the documentation must be retained in an orderly fashion. Documentation access is limited to whistle blower, whistle officer, investigation team, HR Head and Audit committee. The document related to any such case shall be retained for minimum 9 years.
Action on False allegation:
Serious action will be taken against employees who knowingly make false allegations under unethical and improper practice. The stringent action against any such employee may even lead to termination.
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