Blevins Franks Group Whistleblowing Policy Statement
Abridged Version (for external use) – V.1.01 September 2023
1. Background and Context
A person makes a public interest disclosure when they tell their employer, a regulator, consumers, the police, or the media something which relates to some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct in the workplace. This commonly known as ‘Whistleblowing’.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998) and the Protection of the Whistleblower Act 2013 govern the making of disclosures concerning workplace activities in the UK and Malta respectively. These are intended to protect employees who blow the whistle on bad practice from being subjected to any detrimental action or unfairly dismissed as a result.
The European Union (EU) Whistleblower Directive 2021 provides protection across the EU to whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law with their employer. The directive defines a ‘worker’ as a person who, for a certain period, performs services for and under the direction of another person, in return for which they receive remuneration.
Protection should also be granted to workers in non-standard employment relationships, including part-time workers and fixed-term contract workers, as well as persons with a contract of employment or employment relationship with a temporary agency, precarious types of relationships where standard forms of protection against unfair treatment are often difficult to apply. Such categories of persons, include self-employed persons providing services, freelance workers, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers, as well as individuals with whom a work-based relationship has not yet begun (in situations where knowledge of violations was obtained during the hiring process or other pre-contractual negotiations) or has ended (former employees).
The Blevins Franks ‘BF’ Group Whistleblowing Policy was updated in September 2023 to take account of the changes made in the European Union (EU) Whistleblower Directive 2021.
2. Purpose and Scope
The EU Whistleblower Directive requires that BF establishes various internal reporting procedures and includes this in the updated Whistleblowing policy, it is essential that such information be clear and easily accessible, including, to any extent possible, also to persons other than workers and employees, who come in contact with BF through their work-related activities, such as service-providers. This document is an abridged version of BF Group’s procedure text and is to be shared with any third party to fulfil the need to share our Group policy with third parties as set out in the Directive.
3. Blevins Franks Whistleblowing Procedure
At BF we are committed to working within the law, and to keeping an ethical culture of professionalism, honesty, and integrity. We do not believe it is anyone’s interest for employees with knowledge of wrongdoing to remain silent. We do not tolerate malpractice within our organisation whether it is committed by directors, senior managers, other staff, suppliers, or individuals acting on our behalf. It is the responsibility of third parties to raise concerns that they might have about malpractice within the workplace.
The BF Board of Directors has overall responsibility for the policy on Whistleblowing but has delegated day-to-day responsibility for overseeing and implementing it to the Public Interest Disclosure Reporting Officer (PIDRO). The BF PIDRO is the Head of Compliance. In case of absence of this role holder, PIDRO responsibilities will be assumed by the Head of Human Resources.
4. What sort of activities should you report using this procedure?
It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of activities that constitute misconduct or malpractice, but broadly speaking you should use these procedures if you have a genuine concern or there are reasonable grounds to believe that:
- A criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed; or
- A person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with their legal obligations; or
- A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur; or
- The health and safety of any individual, staff or public, has been, is being or is likely to beendangered; or
- The environment has been, is being, or is likely to be damaged; or
- Any of the above are being, or are likely to be, deliberately concealed.
It might not be clear that a particular action falls within one of the above categories. However, we would prefer you to report your concerns rather than keep them to yourself.
5. Reporting through internal channel
The BF whistleblowing reporting process is straightforward. Should you feel the need to raise a concern you can chose to report to the following individuals:
- Send details of your concern to our Public Interest Disclosure Reporting Officer, who is the Headof Compliance; or
- Raise your concern to the Head of Human Resources
A report can be made to the above individuals through BF’s various reporting channels according to your preference:
- Orally by calling the Whistleblowers Hotline on +356 232 743 36. This will make direct andexclusive contact with either the Head of Compliance or the Head of Human Resources; or
- Send an email detailing your concerns to [email protected] which will bedelivered exclusively to the Head of Compliance and Head of Human Resources.
- In writing by addressing the post to the Head of Compliance at the following address: BlevinsFranks, Gasan Centre, Triq il-Merghat, Zone 1, Central Business District, Mriehel CBD1020,Malta or to the Head of Human Resources at the following address: Blevins Franks, 28 St James’sSquare, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4JH, UK (please clearly mark the post as confidential).
You can choose to remain anonymous, and many people do. If you do share with us any information about yourself, we will keep this safe. We will not confirm the existence of a whistleblower when making enquiries, or to anyone outside of BF, unless we are legally obliged to do so. In cases where whistleblowing occurs orally, communications are documented with the informant’s consent by means of a recording of the conversation. Records detailing the allegation will be kept for as long as reasonably possible in line with the Group’s Data Protection policy.
If anyone tries to discourage, prevent, or threaten you from coming forward with a concern, this will be treated as a serious matter and may lead to disciplinary action against them.
6. What do I need to include in my disclosure?
To help us quickly understand and progress your report, it will be helpful to know the following:
- The individual’s name of who you suspect of the wrongdoing;
- What do you reasonably believe is the suspected wrongdoing;
- How long do you believe the wrongdoing has been going on;
- Which Blevins Franks group company this is happening in;
- What is the impact of the wrongdoing;
If you have any supporting documents or evidence, you can share with the relevant individual.
We do not encourage you to proactively obtain any more information from any source, whatever the circumstances, as this might break the law. However, to prevent malicious reports, if asked to, you will be required to clarify the information that you have already disclosed.
7. What happens after I make a disclosure to BF?
The PIDRO, or someone appointed by the PIDRO, will acknowledge receipt of the report within five (5)working days of receipt and will follow up with you and carry out preliminary enquiries to decidewhether a full investigation is necessary. The feedback shall not exceed three months from acknowledgement of receipt and will include: any action taken, the status of the internal investigation, and its outcome. However, this could extend to six months where necessary due to the specific circumstances of the case, in particular the nature and complexity of the subject of the report, which may require a lengthy investigation.
8. Reporting through external channel
It is recommended for all eligible reporting person to first use our internal reporting process. However, you may not think that this is appropriate and may wish to raise your concerns with an external organisation such as the FCA ([email protected]), the MFSA ([email protected]). Before reporting your concerns externally, we strongly recommend you seek advice from a Legal Advisor who will be able to advise you on the circumstances in which you may be able to contact an outside body safely.