This report presents the outcome of a review of the current Whistleblowing Policy which it is proposed to be re-branded as the Speak Up Policy.
Members considered a report which advised that the current Whistleblowing Policy had recently been reviewed, updated, and rebranded as the Speak Up Policy.
Set out in a supplementary agenda were some proposed amendments to the new policy following consultation and also a revised version of the policy which incorporated comments and suggestions made at the Audit Committee on 19 November.
The following issues were discussed:
· Change in name of policy – the change in name was welcomed and avoided the stigma that could be attached to the concept of whistleblowing.
· Concerns which could be raised under the policy – some of the wording of this section was queried, including what was meant by acts that “might” occur, what a miscarriage of justice might constitute and whether the reference to seeking confidential advice to determine whether a concern would be legally protected should be strengthened. It was also suggested that individuals should be able to raise concerns about a Council owned company under the policy. The Head of HR replied that the reference to “might” was to reflect situations where an intent to commit unethical or unprofessional conduct was present, but this had not yet been acted on. The reference to miscarriage of justice would be made clearer. Council owned companies had a separate whistleblowing process. Section 4 of the policy referred to employees of the Council’s companies being able to raise a concern under the policy, which would be considered by the Response Group and then referred to the company to be dealt with. The Head of HR commented that the policy would need to make that process clear. The support available when confidential advice was sought would be added.
· Schools – it was agreed that Section 7 of the policy should make it clear that this did not apply to Academies so as to reflect the statement in Section 4 that staff in Academies could not raise concerns under the policy.
· Monitoring – it was suggested that the refence to “whistleblowing” in this section be replaced with “speak up cases”.
The Committee agreed to:
a) recommend to Full Council the revised version of the Policy, as set out in the Supplementary Agenda, subject to the incorporation of the further proposed amendments to the policy following the consultation, as also set out in the Supplementary Agenda.
b) note that the Head of HR would look at how to incorporate the comments and suggestions made at the meeting and share an updated version of the policy before it was submitted to Council.
(In accordance with Council Rule 12.6, Councillors Khan, Mahil and Prenter asked that their votes in favour be recorded.)