Home Again is committed to the highest standards of openness, accountability and integrity. We believe it is important for individuals to raise concerns about wrongdoing because this enables the best outcomes for our beneficiaries.
Whistleblowing is the reporting of a concern in the public interest that something is happening within or in relation to Home Again that should not be, or something that is not happening that should be. This policy explains how you can raise a whistleblowing concern and what you can expect from us if you do.
Examples of the types of concerns covered by this policy include:
- malpractice involving a Home Again beneficiary, or which puts at risk the safety of children and/or young people
- malpractice that seriously affects the quality of service provision or puts Home Again reputation at risk
- inappropriate/sexual relationships between a staff and/or a person who accesses our services
- fundraising practices or a fundraiser’s unreasonable behaviour. This may include using undue pressure, misleading or excessive requests, and not taking into account the needs of any potential donor who may be in a vulnerable circumstance or require additional care and support to make an informed decision
- unethical behaviour that contravenes the Home Again ethos and values
- bullying, harassment or discrimination you feel unable to approach your manager or the main Home Again contact about:
- fraud/financial irregularity
- a breach of any legal or regulatory obligation
- an act creating risk to health and safety
- a criminal offence; or
- concealment of any of the above.
This policy is primarily for concerns where the interests of others (in the public interest), or of the charity itself, are at risk, whether they are happening now, took place in the past, or are likely to happen in the future. If you are an employee/worker and your concern is about your employment you should consider using the Grievance Policy or other applicable policy. When raising a concern you may be advised to pursue your concern under a different applicable policy.
This policy applies to:
All trustees, employees, contractors and volunteers in Home Again; those accessing our services, including children, young people, carers and adoptive or foster parents/carers; Home Again donors; and other third parties interacting with representatives of Home Again.
The Home Again Whistleblowing Policy has been developed in line with best practice and with reference to a number of sources including existing Home Again policies, and legislation such as the Irish Protected Disclosure Act 2014.
A person reporting an issue of concern does not need to be certain that wrongdoing has taken place. It is sufficient that they have reasonable belief that a wrongdoing was, is, or may be about to be committed.
Protected from Penalisation
Home Again is committed to good practice and maintaining the highest possible standards. As an integral part of this, we will support and protect anyone who raises an issue of concern under the Whistleblowing Policy. Direct or indirect pressure on workers not to raise an issue, or to raise an issue contrary to the Whistleblowing Policy, will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary action.
Home Again will not penalise or threaten to penalise a person for raising an issue based on a reasonable belief under the Home Again Whistleblowing Policy. Home Again will not allow any other person to penalise or threaten penalisation for raising an issue under the Whistleblowing Policy. The Director of Operations and Centre Manager have a particular responsibility to protect staff from unfair, adverse treatment as a result of disclosing a concern.
Home Again will take appropriate action to prevent and remedy any penalisation or breach of confidentiality of Home Again staff when they report a suspected wrongdoing or:
- are suspected of making a report about a suspected wrongdoing;
- provide information or act as a witness as part of an investigation under this policy;
- or are otherwise involved in actions under this policy.
These protections extend beyond the workplace; for example, to conferences and trainings that occur outside the workplace, and to work-related social events. Penalisation or threats of penalisation by members of staff will not be tolerated.
Such behaviour may constitute misconduct and may lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Raising Whistleblowing concerns/complaints
In the first instance you should raise your concerns with your manager. You can do this verbally or in writing. If you are unsure about raising a concern because you don’t know if it is relevant, or whether it falls within this policy, you are encouraged to come forward so that the matter can be discussed and advice given. If you feel unable to approach your manager, you can put your concerns in writing to the Director of Operations; firstname.lastname@example.org.
These concerns will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. If you feel unable to approach your manager or the Director of Operation, or you are concerned they may be involved, you are encouraged to put your concerns in writing for only the attention of the Home Again Board Chairperson. The postal address is 1 Tempe Terrace, Coliemore Road, Dalkey, Co. Dublin.
If you feel you are unable to communicate your concerns to the Board of Management, you are encouraged to raise your complaint through the ‘Tell Us’ Tusla Complaints Process:
Complaints can be made in person, by phone or in writing – forms are available in the Centre or online at www.tusla.ie/about/feedback-and-complaints
How Home Again will respond to concerns
All concerns raised are received and logged by the Director of Operations. Concerns are handled confidentially and where necessary managed anonymously. On receiving your concern, provided you are satisfied with providing your name, you will be contacted by the Centre Manager, Director of Operations of Board Chairperson depending on the contents of the concerns in confidence, usually within 5 working days of receipt. You will be informed:
- that the concerns has been received and will be investigated
- the name of the person who will investigate
- a named point of contact during the investigation
- temporary alternative working arrangements (if applicable)
You will receive a progress update within a further 10 working days of the initial acknowledgement. If you wish to remain completely anonymous, Home Again will still investigate the concern raised, however this is likely to be more difficult. If this is the case, please do provide a sufficient amount of information to ensure your concern can be properly investigated.
How will we investigate
The Director of Operations, in consultation with the relevant senior manager will determine who will perform the investigation. If there is an actual or perceived risk to the independence and objectivity of the investigation, this will be undertaken in full by an appropriate nominated individual.
If the complaint is made about a member of management, the Director of Operations is responsible for determining the appropriate course of action, including who will perform the detailed investigation, where required. If the complaint is related to the Director of Operations, the Board of Management is responsible for determining the appropriate course of action, including who will perform the detailed investigation, where required.
The investigator will contact you to discuss your concerns in more detail. If necessary, the investigator will meet with you to find out all the facts and check any details. You may be asked to give a written statement. Once the investigator clarifies your concerns, if he/she believes the concerns fall outside this policy you will be advised of the alternative route to follow. The investigator will keep you informed as to the likely duration of the investigation.
Once the investigation is complete we will contact you to confirm the outcome and any action planned. Because of confidentiality and data protection we may not be able to give you full details of our findings, but we will discuss this with you fully and, where we can, explain our decisions.
How to appeal a decision
If you do not think your concerns have been addressed, you may appeal the decision by contacting Director of Operations of designated Board Director within 20 working days of receipt of the outcome. You should state clearly and succinctly the reasons you are appealing and any alternative outcome you think appropriate. The purpose of the appeal is to assess if the conclusions and actions decided during the investigation were appropriate based on all the evidence available.
Making a disclosure
In addition to the means of making a disclosure listed under this policy Home Again staff can also make a disclosure to prescribed bodies under these acts. Although a complainant is not expected to provide proof, in the disclosure they must be able to show they have a reasonable belief that their information and allegation are substantially true. This is a somewhat higher standard than when making an internal disclosure.
When making a disclosure to any prescribed body, you should state that the disclosure is made under the Protected Disclosures Act and state if you do/do not expect confidentially.
The prescribed bodies which are considered appropriate in this instance are:
Republic of Ireland
The Charities Regulatory Authority Ireland:
Tel: 01 633 1550