Our values set a platform for what we believe will build long term sustainable success for the firm. We want to work in a way that promotes our values and ensures that we provide the best possible service for our clients, and best possible environment for our team.
The firm is committed to dealing responsibly, openly and professionally with concerns anyone may have about possible malpractice within the firm. This whistleblowing policy provides a mechanism for team members and for third parties to raise genuine concerns, whilst offering protection from victimisation, harassment or disciplinary proceedings for those who do so.
Who does this policy apply to?
The policy applies to all staff, including those on permanent or fixed term contracts, to agency staff, consultants and contractors and to those on work experience and to third parties who have a relationship with the firm or come in to contact with its team members
What types of concerns are covered by this policy?
This policy covers situations where an individual raises a concern about a risk, malpractice or wrongdoing that affects others such as clients, staff, the firm, suppliers or the public interest. Although you may have concerns or questions relating to any area of the firm’s activities, examples of the types of concerns to be raised under this policy are:
- Danger to health and safety
- Danger to the environment
- Breach of a legal obligation
- Negligence on the part of the firm
- Financial misconduct of the firm or any of its employees
- Wrongdoing by a client
- Poor work by a member or student of the ICAEW, ACCA, FCA or other professional body
- Bribery and corruption
- Any attempt to cover up any of the above
These concerns are referred to here as ‘malpractice’ but the policy also refers to areas that lie within our internal Code of Conduct, i.e. failure to live up to the firm’s values and standards.
What types of concerns are not covered by this policy?
This policy does not cover concerns or complaints about an employee’s own personal employment position. Any such concerns or complaints should be raised through the firm’s grievance procedure. Generally speaking, a whistleblowing issue is one that affects others, e.g. clients or the firm, whereas a personal complaint is one where you believe you personally have been unfairly treated. If you are a team member raising a concern in relation to money laundering, please follow the firm’s Money Laundering Procedures for guidance.
Clients who are dissatisfied with the service received from Chathams are asked to follow the complaints procedure set out in the general terms and conditions attached to our engagement terms.
Protection under this policy
You are not required to prove any matters raised under this policy. An honest and reasonable suspicion that malpractice has been or is likely to be committed is sufficient.
If you raise a genuine concern under this policy, you will not be at risk of losing your job or suffering any form of detriment as a result. Provided you are acting honestly and reasonably, it does not matter if you are mistaken about your concern.
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (‘PIDA’)
Some disclosures will be “protected disclosures” under the PIDA if the individual raising the issue reasonably believes that the disclosure is made in the public interest and fits into the categories set out in the legislation. A whistleblower making a “protected disclosure” is given statutory protection and, providing certain conditions are satisfied, they have the legal right not to suffer a detriment as a result of their whistleblowing.
Please note the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 does not cover all matters you may be concerned with (please refer to the “What types of concerns” paragraph above).
The firm will not tolerate the victimisation or harassment of team members who have raised a concern under this policy. All allegations of such treatment will be taken seriously and if well founded will usually be investigated under the firm’s disciplinary procedure as potential gross misconduct.
Anyone found to have treated a colleague in this way may be dismissed without notice or pay in lieu of notice. Maliciously making a false allegation under this policy will constitute gross misconduct and will be investigated under the firm’s disciplinary procedure. Anyone found to have maliciously made a false allegation may be dismissed without pay or pay in lieu of notice.
In certain circumstances an individual may bring an employment claim against their colleague if they believe they have suffered a detriment, or believe they have been victimised, bullied or harassed.
What to do if you have a concern
Chathams’ team members: If you have any concerns about malpractice that you would like to raise, please speak to your Line Manager or Director in the first instance. You can do this orally or in writing. If, for any reason, you feel unable to raise the matter with one of these people you should refer the matter to another partner or your Management Unit leader. When raising your concern, please make sure the person you raise the matter with knows you are raising it under this procedure. If it is not appropriate to report this matter directly to someone in Chathams then please use the confidential reporting hotline (see details below).
The company providing this service is Feedcall. Feedcall provide an independent external reporting line where you can raise your concerns about Chathams and be assured they will be fully addressed. Each call is treated in complete confidence by skilled call handlers who are trained to receive a report about concerns in the workplace. Feedcall will not disclose your name to Chathams if you wish to remain anonymous. Your call will not be audio recorded.
Details of the Feedcall service can also be found on Feedcall posters in all Chathams offices.
When a report is received
The person with whom you raised the concern will arrange for the matter to be investigated as soon as possible, and at most within one month of your raising it with them.
The Head of Quality will be notified that a concern has been raised and will ensure an appropriate response. Any concern raised under this policy will remain confidential between yourself, the person with whom you have raised the matter and, if necessary, the partners and HR team. Any information you provide under this procedure will also remain confidential. However, depending on the nature of the matter you have raised, the firm may be required by law to disclose some or all of the information to a third party. You will be informed if such disclosures are made.
Whilst investigating the matter, the firm may require you to provide further information. Your co-operation after you have raised a matter is essential for the proper investigation of your concern. If a matter is raised anonymously, it will be investigated as far as it can be in accordance with this procedure. Please note that if the firm is unable to return to you for more detailed information, the investigation may be difficult (if not impossible) to conduct and it will not be possible to report to you the results of its investigation. Reports made via our confidential external hotline can remain anonymous if you so wish.
Once the matter has been investigated, you will be provided with a written report of the findings. If you have raised a concern which proves to be well founded, the findings of the investigation will also be reported to the Head of Quality who will take appropriate action.
If you are not satisfied with the response from the person with whom you raised the issue, you should refer the matter to the Head of Quality. The investigation and its findings will be reviewed and findings reported to you within one month of the referral.
If you feel, after the matter has been reviewed and findings reported to you, that the matter has not been properly investigated by the firm, there are various prescribed bodies with whom you may raise your concerns. Examples of these organisations are:
- The Health & Safety Executive
- The Environment Agency
- HM Revenue & Customs
- The Financial Conduct Authority
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
The making of malicious allegations regarding the firm’s activities to external persons will constitute gross misconduct and will be investigated under the firm’s disciplinary procedure. Anyone found to have made a malicious allegation may be dismissed without notice or pay in lieu of notice.
If you are unsure or have queries about raising a concern, you can obtain free, confidential advice from the whistleblowing charity, Public Concern at Work (www.pcaw.org.uk).
A central record of all whistleblowing allegations will be held by the Head of Quality who will report on the outcome of investigations to the National Executive and to the firm’s Independent Non-Executives.