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Council / SIC looking to introduce whistleblowing policy

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) is planning to introduce a specific whistleblowing policy.

Whistleblowing is generally when an employee raises concern about a colleague doing something wrong at work.

A report on the prospective SIC policy said concerns can be reported either by staff or members of the public.

The council currently has a ‘reporting concerns at work’ policy, but the whistleblowing one would come in addition to this.

Under the proposed new policy an online reporting form and dedicated telephone number would be set up to facilitate whistleblowing referrals, which will be made to the council’s internal auditors Audit Glasgow.

There are currently procedures in place which allow SIC staff members to lodge a grievance relating to their own employment, for example, bullying and harassment.

Whistleblowing is intended to cover concerns that fall outside this, except in exceptional circumstances where an employee has a concern that is so serious that they feel they have no route to report it.

Members of the council’s audit committee gave the policy the thumbs up at a meeting on Tuesday morning.

Lerwick North and Bressay councillor Stephen Leask asked whether the service being provided by an external organisation instead of management within the SIC might encourage more take-up.

Audit Glasgow’s Jillian Campbell said from her experience that was the case.

Leask also asked how much the service would cost – or whether it was a “free lunch”.

Campbell said that the service forms part of the package between Audit Glasgow and the SIC, so there is no additional cost.

Backing the policy, Shetland Central councillor Moraig Lyall said having the service run by an external organisation would offer a “degree of separation” from the local authority.

The report on the policy will now go in front of the SIC’s policy and resources and full council meetings next month for final decision.

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