Protected Disclosure Procedure
If an employee of the school believes that serious wrongdoing has occurred within or by the school, they can declare it by way of a protected disclosure.
The protected disclosure procedure:
· protects the person who reports it from retaliatory or disciplinary action, and also from civil or criminal proceedings (An employee could bring a personal grievance case against the school if any retaliatory action is taken against them.)
· ensures that the identity of the person who reports the wrongdoing remains confidential
(Unless naming of the person is essential for the investigation, or to prevent serious risk to public health, public safety, or the environment, or to respect the principles of natural justice.)
· ensures that the school complies with the requirements of the Protected Disclosure Act.
Serious wrongdoing is defined in the Act as:
· unlawful, corrupt, or irregular use of public funds or resources
· an act, omission, or course of conduct that:
o seriously risks public health or safety, or the environment
o constitutes a criminal offence
o seriously risks the maintenance of law, for example, hides an offence or threatens the right to a fair trial
o is oppressive, improperly discriminatory, or grossly negligent
o constitutes gross mismanagement.
To Make a Protected Disclosure:
1. Put the disclosure in writing, stating the nature of the wrongdoing and the names of the people involved.
2. State that you wish your disclosure to be protected.
The disclosure officer will endeavour to protect your identity, unless identifying you is essential for the investigation, to prevent serious risk to public health, or is under the the principles of natural justice.
Protection only applies to serious wrongdoing. Anyone who makes a disclosure they know is false, or in bad faith, is not protected by the Act.
The Act does not protect you if you disclose information to the media or a member of parliament other than a Minister of the Crown in the circumstances referred to below.
3. Sign and date the letter. Include your return address details and send it to the disclosure officer.
The Principal is Gorge Road School’s disclosure officer.
If you believe that the Principal is involved in the wrong doing, or has an association with the person committing the wrong doing, then you can make the disclosure to the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.
It is then up to the person you disclose to, to decide if the disclosure constitutes a serious wrongdoing, and that the allegations need investigating. They can decide:
a) To investigate the disclosure themselves
b) To forward the disclosure to the board or a committee of the board to investigate
c) To pass it on to an appropriate outside authority.
You can go directly to the appropriate outside authority when:
a. the Principal and the Board Chair may be involved in the wrongdoing
b. the matter needs urgent attention or there are other exceptional circumstances.
c. there has been no action after 20 working days
Manage a Protected Disclosure
The disclosure officer acknowledges receipt of the disclosure in writing and reports it to the chairperson of the board. The chairperson may refer the matter to the board.
The board considers the disclosure and determines the scope and management of any investigation, including the process to be followed and who will be involved. All steps are taken to ensure that the identity of the person making the disclosure remains confidential.
The board considers seeking legal advice.
Within 20 working days the disclosure officer reports to the employee concerned letting them know what action has been taken, or recommended to be taken.
An employee who has a personal grievance has the right to pursue that grievance against their employer under the Employment Relations Act 2000.
Reasons for taking a personal grievance may include the claim:
· that the employee has been unjustifiably dismissed
· that the employee's employment was affected to the employee's disadvantage by some unjustifiable action by the employer
· that the employee has been discriminated against in the employee's employment
· that the employee has been sexually harassed in the employee's employment
· that the employee has been racially harassed in the employee's employment
· that the employee has been subject to duress in the employee's employment in relation to membership or non-membership of a union or employees' organisation.
A personal grievance must be made within 90 days of the alleged grievance.
If the personal grievance is not settled in discussions with the employer, the grievance may be referred to mediation provided by the Employment Relations Service or Employment Relations Authority.
The Employment Relations Act sets out the awards that may be made by the Employment Relations Authority or Court. These can include:
· compensation of money lost by the employee as a result of the grievance
· compensation for pain and humiliation, and other loss of benefit
· a recommendation to the employer concerning possible actions regarding the behaviour of the harasser, for example, disciplinary or rehabilitative action.