Whistle-Blowing Policy

 Whistleblowing Policy (Confidential Reporting)

  1. What is Whistleblowing?

In this policy ‘Whistleblowing’ means the reporting by employees of suspected misconduct, illegal acts or failure to act within AquAid Lifeline Fund (known in Malawi as “AquAid Lifeline”).

The aim of this Policy is to encourage employees and others who have serious concerns about any aspect of AquAid Lifeline Fund’s work to come forward and voice those concerns.

Employees maybe the first to realise that there may be something seriously wrong within AquAid Lifeline Fund. ‘Whistleblowing’ is viewed by AquAid Lifeline Fund as a positive act that can make a valuable contribution to AquAid Lifeline Fund’s efficiency and long-term success. It is not disloyal to colleagues or AquAid Lifeline Fund to speak up. AquAid Lifeline Fund is committed to achieving the highest possible standards of service and the highest possible ethical standards in public life and in all of its practices. To help achieve these standards it encourages freedom of speech.

If you are considering raising a concern you should read this Policy first. It explains:

  • the type of issues that can be raised
  • how the person raising a concern will be protected from victimisation and harassment
  • how to raise a concern, and
  • what AquAid Lifeline Fund will do.

2. What is the aim of the Policy and when does it apply?

2.1. Aims of the Policy

The Policy is designed to ensure that you can raise your concerns about wrongdoing or malpractice within the AquAid Lifeline Fund without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination, disadvantage or dismissal.

It is also intended to encourage and enable you to raise serious concerns within AquAid Lifeline Fund rather than ignoring a problem or ‘blowing the whistle’ outside.

This Policy aims to:

  • encourage you to feel confident in raising serious concerns at the earliest opportunity and to question and act upon concerns about practice
  • provide avenues for you to raise those concerns and receive feedback on any action taken
  • ensure that you receive a response to your concerns and that you are aware of how to pursue them if you are not satisfied
  • reassure you that you will be protected from possible reprisals or victimisation if you have made any disclosure in good faith.

2.2. Scope

This Policy is intended to enable those who become aware of wrongdoing within the AquAid Lifeline Fund affecting some other person or service, to report their concerns at the earliest opportunity so that they can be properly investigated.

The Whistle Blowing Policy is not intended to replace existing procedures:

  • If your concern relates to your own treatment as an employee, you should raise it under the existing grievance or harassment procedures.
  • If anyone has a concern about services provided to him/her by the AquAid Lifeline Fund, it should be raised as a complaint to the AquAid Lifeline Fund
  • Complaints of misconduct by AquAid Lifeline Fund employees or representatives are dealt with under a separate procedure (for further information please contact AquAid Lifeline Fund.)

2.3. Who can raise a concern under this Policy?

The Policy applies to all:

  • employees of AquAid Lifeline Fund*
  • employees of contractors working for AquAid Lifeline Fund, for example, agency staff, builders and drivers
  • employees of suppliers
  • those providing services under a contract or other agreement with AquAid Lifeline Fund in their own premises, for example orphanages, schools and clinics, and
  • voluntary workers working with AquAid Lifeline Fund

2.4. What should be reported?

Any serious concerns that you have about service provision or the conduct of officers or members of AquAid Lifeline Fund or others acting on behalf of AquAid Lifeline Fund that:

  • make you feel uncomfortable in terms of known standards.
  • are not in keeping with the AquAid Lifeline Fund’s Constitution and policies.
  • fall below established standards of practice; or
  • are improper behaviour.

These might relate to:

  • conduct which is an offence or a breach of the law (a criminal offence has been committed or failing to comply with any other legal obligation)
  • disclosures related to miscarriages of justice
  • racial, sexual, disability or other discrimination
  • health and safety of the public and/or other employees
  • damage to the environment
  • unauthorised use of public funds or other assets
  • possible fraud and corruption
  • neglect or abuse of beneficiaries, or
  • other unethical conduct.

This list is not exhaustive.

3. Protecting the Whistle-blower

3.1. Your legal rights

This policy has been written to take account of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which protects workers making disclosures about certain matters of concern, when those disclosures are made in accordance with the Act’s provisions and in the public interest.

The Act makes it unlawful for AquAid Lifeline Fund to dismiss anyone or allow them to be victimised on the basis that they have made an appropriate lawful disclosure in accordance with the Act.

Rarely, a case might arise where it is the employee that has participated in the action causing concern. In such a case it is in the employee’s interest to come into the open as soon as possible. AquAid Lifeline Fund cannot promise not to act against such an employee, but the fact that they came forward may be taken into account.

3.2. Harassment or Victimisation

AquAid Lifeline Fund is committed to good practice and high standards and to being supportive.

AquAid Lifeline Fund recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make. If you honestly and reasonably believe what you are saying is true, you should have nothing to fear because you will be doing your duty to your employer, your colleagues and those for whom you are providing a service.

AquAid Lifeline Fund will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation of a whistle-blower (including informal pressures) and will take appropriate action to protect you when you raise a concern in good faith and will treat this as a serious disciplinary offence which will be dealt with under the disciplinary rules and procedure.

3.3. Support to you

Throughout this process:

  • you will be given full support from senior management
  • your concerns will be taken seriously, and
  • the AquAid Lifeline Fund will do all it can to help you throughout the investigation

If appropriate, AquAid Lifeline Fund will consider temporarily re-deploying you for the period of the investigation.

For those who are not AquAid Lifeline Fund employees, AquAid Lifeline Fund will endeavour to provide appropriate advice and support wherever possible.

3.4. Confidentiality

All concerns will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal your identity if that is your wish.  If disciplinary or other proceedings follow the investigation, it may not be possible to take action as a result of your disclosure without your help, so you may be asked to come forward as a witness. If you agree to this, you will be offered advice and support.

3.5. Anonymous Allegations

This Policy encourages you to put your name to your allegation whenever possible. If you do not tell us who you are it will be much more difficult for us to protect your position or to give you feedback. This policy is not ideally suited to concerns raised anonymously.

Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful, but they may be considered at the discretion of AquAid Lifeline Fund.  In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account would include:

  • the seriousness of the issue raised
  • the credibility of the concern, and
  • the likelihood of confirming the allegation from other sources

3.6. Untrue Allegations

If you make an allegation in good faith and reasonably believing it to be true, but it is not confirmed by the investigation, the AquAid Lifeline Fund will recognise your concern and you have nothing to fear.  If however, you make an allegation frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain, appropriate action that could include disciplinary action, may be taken.

4. Raising a Concern
4.1. Who should you raise your concern with?

This will depend on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is suspected of the wrongdoing.

Concerns arising in Malawi should be reported and managed in Malawi in line with this policy

Concerns arising in the UK should be reported and managed in the UK in line with this policy

You should normally raise concerns in Malawi with one or more of:

  • Your Line Manager (where applicable)
  • Your Departmental Head
  • The General Manager / Monitoring Officer “Angus Gaisford” via telephone on 0999 788788
  • The Chair of the Trustees Connex Ijalasi on +265993634972

The address for correspondence is: AquAid Lifeline Fund, P.O. Box 2 Lunzu, Blantyre

If, exceptionally, the concern is about your line manager or departmental director your concern should be raised directly with the chair of the trustees of AquAid Lifeline Fund who will decide how the investigation will proceed. This may include external investigation.

If you are unsure who to contact in Malawi you should report your concern directly to the chair of the trustees in Malawi who will advise.

You should normally raise concerns in the UK with:

The address for correspondence is: AquAid Lifeline Fund, 6 Hall Green Lane, Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire PE28 9JH

If, exceptionally, the concern is about Monitoring Officer your concern should be raised directly with the chair of the trustees of AquAid Lifeline Fund who will decide how the investigation will proceed. This may include external investigation.

If you are unsure who to contact, the independent charity “Protect” can advise those in the UK. Protect offer a free and confidential helpline on 020 3117 2520.

4.2. How to raise a concern

You may raise your concern by telephone, in person or in writing.  The earlier you express your concern, the easier it is to take action.  You will need to provide the following information:

  • the nature of your concern and why you believe it to be true
  • the background and history of the concern (giving relevant dates)

Although you are not expected to prove beyond doubt the truth of your suspicion, you will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that you have a genuine concern relating to suspected wrongdoing or malpractice within AquAid Lifeline Fund and there are reasonable grounds for your concern.

You may wish to consider discussing your concern with a colleague first and you may find it easier to raise the matter if there are two (or more) of you who have had the same experience or concerns.

You may invite a professional association representative or a friend to be present for support during any meetings or interviews in connection with the concerns you have raised.

5. What AquAid Lifeline Fund will do
AquAid Lifeline Fund will respond to your concerns as quickly as possible.  Do not forget that testing your concerns is not the same as either accepting or rejecting them.

The overriding principle for AquAid Lifeline Fund will be the public interest.  In order to be fair to all employees, including those who may be wrongly or mistakenly accused, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take.

The investigation may need to be carried out under terms of strict confidentiality, i.e. by not informing the subject of the complaint until (or if) it becomes necessary to do so. In certain cases however, such as allegations of ill treatment of others, suspension from work may have to be considered immediately. Protection of others is paramount in all cases.

Where appropriate, the matters raised may:

  • be investigated by management, internal audit, or through the disciplinary/grievance process
  • be referred to the police
  • be referred to the external auditor
  • be referred and put through established safeguarding procedures
  • form the subject of an independent inquiry

Within ten working days of a concern being raised, the person investigating your concern will write to you:

  • acknowledging that the concern has been received
  • indicating how the AquAid Lifeline Fund proposes to deal with the matter
  • supplying you with information on staff support mechanisms
  • telling you whether further investigations will take place and if not, why not.

The amount of contact between you and the officers considering the issues will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of your information.  It is likely that you will be interviewed to ensure that your disclosure is fully understood.

Any meeting can be arranged away from your workplace, if you wish, and a professional association representative or a friend may accompany you in support.

AquAid Lifeline Fund will do what it can to minimise any difficulties that you may experience as a result of raising a concern.  For instance, if you are asked to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, AquAid Lifeline Fund will arrange for you to receive appropriate advice and support.

You need to be assured that your disclosure has been properly addressed.  Unless there are any legal reasons why this cannot be done, you will be kept informed of the progress and outcome of any investigation.

6. The Responsible Officer
The Monitoring Officer has overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of this Policy. The M.O. in Malawi for Malawi and the M.O. in UK for the UK

7. How the Matter can be Taken Further

This Policy is intended to provide you with an avenue within AquAid Lifeline Fund to raise concerns. AquAid Lifeline Fund hopes you will be satisfied with any action taken.  If you are not, and you feel it is right to take the matter outside AquAid Lifeline Fund, the following are AquAid Lifeline Fund’s prescribed contacts:

  • AquAid Lifeline Fund
  • the police
  • other relevant bodies prescribed by legislation – AquAid Lifeline Fund’s Monitoring Officer will be able to advise you who you can contact

If you raise concerns outside AquAid Lifeline Fund you should ensure that it is to one of these prescribed contacts.  A public disclosure to anyone else could take you outside the protection of the Public Interest Disclosure Act and of this Policy.

You should not disclose information that is confidential to AquAid Lifeline Fund or to anyone else, such as a client or contractor of AquAid Lifeline Fund, except to those included in the list of prescribed contacts.

This Policy does not prevent you from taking your own legal advice.

8. Review of the Policy

The AquAid Lifeline Fund’s Policy Committee will review this Policy annually.

9. Corporate Recording and Monitoring

The Monitoring Officer will maintain a register containing all concerns that are brought to their attention. All officers allocated to look into a concern must ensure the Monitoring Officer is provided with sufficient details for the register.

The Monitoring Officer will review the corporate register and produce an annual report for Policy Committee. The report will include a summary of the concerns raised, to which department they related, the post to which the concerns related (if not confidential) and any lessons learned. The report will not include any employee names. The aim of this is to ensure that:

  • AquAid Lifeline Fund and/or the relevant department learns from mistakes and does not repeat them, and
  • consistency of approach across the departments

The register together with the annual reports will be available for inspection by internal and external audit, after removing any confidential details.