Whistle Blower Policy
What is Whistle Blowing Policy and Procedure? Whistleblower Meaning and Definition :
As per whistle blower meaning an employee rises complain for any wrongdoing within the organisation. The whistleblower policy in business exists in an organisation to give authority to employees to raise their concern against any breach of code of conduct, misconduct, misbehaviour, illegal activity, sharing of confidential information, patent etc. Wrong doing generally include when an employee has done any criminal offense or an employee has poised danger to health and safety of others, sharing or leakage of any confidential information to others. An employee must genuinely believe that there is wrongdoing in employer business (Whistle blower policy in business) and a company is committed to highest standard of openness, probity and accountability. This policy is meant to guide individuals who have discovered any improper act or wrongdoing. Any matter which is being taken care under harassment, complain, disciplinary action should not be taken under whistle blower policy.
Types of Whistle Blower Policy
There are two types of whistle blower policy, internal and external. Internal when concern is raised within the organisation and external when concern is raised outside of organisation for instance to media etc. but in both the cases It is the employee whistleblower who raise the concern.
Who is a whistleblower?
A whistle blower is defined as someone who raises a concern against any of the activity happening in the organisation which is unethical in nature. The activity has been explained in above paragraph. The whistleblower policy example includes any concern raised to prevent the loss to the organisation and to protect the company from any bad image. Beneath said approach is Whistle blower strategy test. Alongside shriek blower arrangement test It is essential to have a culture in the association which bolsters the informant strategy. Some steps can be taken for promoting a whistleblower culture:
- Make a whistle blower policy and announce it.
- Stress on communication about bans on retaliation for whistle blowing activities.
- Message of incorporation of whistleblower must percolate down from top to bottom i.e. from top management to entry level employees.
- There should be commitment of implementing whistle blower
- In the event that there is inappropriate act, it must be altogether researched through whistleblower
Having a corporate whistle blower is important from various angles. It generates the environment of trust and integrity within the organisation. However it is foremost responsibility of top management to provide safety and security to the whistleblower.
Some benefits of having a whistleblower in workplace can be explained as:
- Make employees vigilant about any wrongdoing
- Remove corruption
- Make employees more responsible by giving them authority to raise concern
- Reduces risk happening
- More jobs to internal auditors etc to create a strong mechanism.
- With whistleblower policy once can outline consequences of making false accusations about the company.
However it is to be noted that the protection is given to employees in terms of confidentiality and against retaliation. This is to be followed as Confidence is given to employees so that they can share freely any improper act which they come across while working. As per the whistle blower policy, the complaint is made to whistle officer who in turn investigate with the investigation team. Finally, the final call is taken by whistle officer in consultation with audit committee. This is as per whistle blower process. The whistle blower examples should not be confused with grievances as they are dealt separately by HR.
In the whistle blower policy we have tried explaining the objective of the policy, eligibility under the policy, definitions which are used within the policy, reportable matters, and guidelines procedures. What are the responsibilities of whistleblower, whistle officer, investigation team, disclosure and reporting of improper act, protection that is given to the whistle blower, rights of a subject, It also
includes the corporate whistle blower policy and whistle blower process. Whistle blowing at work includes who is a whistle blower, what are the various steps of investigation, Actions on false allegations, documentation, retention of documents, sharing of reports and documents and process flow of whistleblower.
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Sample Whistle blower Policy Template
Preamble: There is certain set of behaviour which is to be followed within the organisation. The code of conduct policy explains the ideal behaviour and actions of employees within the organisation. The whistle blower policy gives authority to employees to raise their concern in case they come across any type of improper act or violation of code of conduct which includes Fraud, scam etc. Details on the process and procedure are explained in the whistle blowing policy template below.
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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