The Charity Commission has published guidance to confirm that charity employees can report concerns about certain categories of serious wrongdoing at their charity to the Commission via a dedicated whistleblowing email address.
The guidance explains when whistle-blowers will be protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (the 'Act'), although notably self-employed professionals (except in the NHS) and voluntary workers (including trustees) will not be protected.
The Act protects disclosures made to the Commission where the employee reasonably believed the failure related to 'the proper administration of charities and funds given, or held, for charitable purposes' and that the information disclosed and any allegation are substantially true. The disclosure must relate to one of the following:
- a criminal offence;
- breach of a legal obligation;
- miscarriage of justice;
- danger to the health and safety of any individual;
- damage to the environment; or
- deliberate concealment of information tending to show one of the above.
The Commission sets out its approach to dealing with disclosures from whistle-blowers commenting that it will treat these in the same way as a complaint. It notes that it will take steps to ensure that a whistle-blower's identity is not revealed without consent, but that in some cases there may be an obligation to reveal information or the evidence itself may indicate the source.
For volunteers and charity trustees, concerns must be reported through the serious incident reporting regime.
The full guidance is available here.