Raising a concern with the Commissioner
This policy sets out our approach when the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales (the Commissioner) is contacted by an employee from another organisation who is worried about wrongdoing where they work and want to raise a concern and report it, or ‘blow the whistle’.
What is whistleblowing?
'Whistleblowing' refers to a disclosure of information by a worker who has a reasonable belief that it tends to show one or more of the following:
- A criminal offence has been committed or is likely to be committed; and/or
- A person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which he is subject; and/or
- A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur; and/or
- The health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered; and/or
- The environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged; and/or Information tending to show any matter above has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.
When to ‘blow the whistle?’
All of us, at one time or another have concerns about what is happening at work. Usually these are easily resolved. However, when the concern feels serious because it is about a possible fraud, danger, inappropriate/unprofessional behaviour or harm that might affect others or the organisation itself, it can be difficult to know what to do.
You may be worried about raising such a concern and may think it best to keep it to yourself, perhaps feeling it’s none of your business or that it’s only a suspicion. You may feel that raising the matter would be disloyal to colleagues, managers or to the organisation. You may decide to say something but find that you have spoken to the wrong person or raised the issue in the wrong way and are not sure what to do next.
It is good practice for employers to have their own internal whistle-blowing procedures, which should explain how you can raise any concerns. If your employer does have such procedures you should follow them, unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) recommends that workers raise concerns with their employer in the first instance and we endorse this; however there is no legal requirement to do so. It is recognised that there can be legitimate reasons why a worker would want to raise their concerns outside of their workplace.
You can find out more about Whistleblowing and raising concerns with the Commissioner here: Raising a concern with the Commissioner policy (.pdf)
Public Interest Disclosure Act
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) protects employees who blow the whistle about wrongdoing from victimisation by their employers, provided that they blow the whistle in one of the ways set out in PIDA (known as making a protected disclosure).
PIDA applies to most employees and includes those employed on a temporary basis or through an agency. An employee who is victimised because they have raised a concern and ‘blown the whistle’ can take their employer to an employment tribunal to seek redress.
The role of the Commissioner
The Commissioner is a ‘prescribed person’ under PIDA for matters relating to the rights and wellbeing of older people in Wales.
This means that a worker may gain protection as a whistle-blower under PIDA where the disclosure is made to the Commissioner, provided that the worker making the disclosure reasonably believes that it falls within the remit of the Commissioner and that the information disclosed and any allegations contained in it are substantially true.
The Commissioner’s overriding concern is to protect the public interest. The Commissioner is not required to consider whether a disclosure qualifies for protection under PIDA and will not be able to provide advice on this. It would ultimately be for an employment Tribunal to determine whether an individual has the protection under PIDA. The Commissioner’s role is to consider the matters disclosed to it.
PIDA does not require the Commissioner to investigate every disclosure received. The Commissioner can only investigate disclosures which fall within the scope of the Commissioner's statutory functions and within the parameters of the Commissioner's statutory powers.
Public Interest Disclosure Act Annual Reports
Annual report: 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales did not receive any disclosures for the reporting period of 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 which we regard as falling within the terms of the Prescribed Persons (Reports on Disclosures of Information) Regulations 2017.
Annual report: 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales did not receive any disclosures for the reporting period of 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 which we regard as falling within the terms of the Prescribed Persons (Reports on Disclosures of Information) Regulations 2017.