Once a concern has been raised (in writing, in person or by phone), there needs to be some discussion about whether the concern can be handled under this procedure. This should include:
- considering whether the issue fits the definition of a concern suitable for this procedure
- considering whether the issue is being handled through business as usual
- considering whether the person wants the issue to be handled through this procedure, and receive the support and protection that is available through it
- directing the person to any other appropriate procedures (for example, HR procedures)
- considering issues relating to confidentiality
- considering what support would be helpful for the person.
If the person does not want to use this procedure, they can raise their concern without giving their name (see the section on anonymous and unnamed concerns). The organisation can choose how to investigate the concern, but good practice would be to follow the whistleblowing principles, and investigate the concern in line with the Standards, particularly if existing business as usual procedures have not been able to deal with the issue successfully.
If the organisation decides a concern cannot be handled under this procedure (for some or all of the issues raised), even if the person raising the concern has asked for this procedure to be used, it must record this decision and tell the person how to refer the matter to the INWO. Both sides must agree whether a written response is needed, and this agreement must also be recorded. If possible, the organisation should tell the person face-to-face or over the phone that it won’t be following this procedure. It is important to record full and accurate details of the decision not to consider the concern through this procedure, and to make sure that the person understands this decision. If there is information that the organisation cannot share with the person, it should explain why.
If the organisation is not responsible for the issue of concern, the person receiving the concern should signpost to the appropriate organisation, or contact the INWO directly to make sure the concern is passed on and acted on appropriately. Remember to keep the person’s details confidential.