One of the new clauses in BRC Issue 8 is to implement a confidential reporting system, or as we know it, a whistleblowing system. We’ve all heard of this, but implementing one is a different matter. So, I’m going to go through what it means and how to do it…
New clause 1.1.6
“The company shall have a confidential reporting system to enable staff to report concerns relating to product safety, integrity, quality and legality.
The mechanism (e.g. the relevant telephone number) for reporting concerns must be clearly communicated to staff.
The company’s senior management shall have a process for assessing any concerns raised. Records of the assessment and, where appropriate, actions taken, shall be documented.”
So, what does the BRC mean by a ‘confidential reporting system’?
Well, in the draft version of Issue 8, they didn’t call it that – they used the term whistleblowing system. Some people don’t like that term, which is probably why they changed it, but at least when you call it whistleblowing, we all know what that means. A ‘confidential reporting system’ is a bit more non-descript and so, may be misunderstood.
For this reason, I’m going to call it whistleblowing from now on. And, there’s a key reason for this and that is because, the government recognises it as whistleblowing. There is a law on whistleblowing in the UK, the Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998). This law defines what whistleblowing is.
What does the term whistleblowing mean?
Making a disclosure or blowing the whistle. Basically, telling someone about a wrongdoing, which most of the time happens at work. The law states, that the person blowing the whistle, by law, must believe two things:
- That they are acting in the best interests of the general public.
- That the wrongdoing conforms to the definition, as set out by the law.
What is the definition of a wrongdoing?
A wrongdoing is something that has happened in the past, is currently happening, or they feel is likely to occur in the future, Such as:
- A criminal offence (this may include, for example, types of financial impropriety such as fraud)
- Failure to comply with an obligation set out in law
- A miscarriage of justice
- That someone’s health and safety is in danger
- damage to the environment
- Or, covering up wrongdoing described
The whistleblowing law protects the individual that has blown the whistle and gives them the right to take the case to tribunal if they feel they’ve been victimised at work, because of it.
The Government has provided a guidance document for businesses who wish to implement a whistleblowing system. It’s a really good document and you’ll find it really helpful when putting together your system, to meet this new clause for BRC Issue 8.
You can find the document here: Government guidance document
As always, if you have any comments about this subject, or anything relating to issue 8, please just put your comments in the reply box underneath. Remember, you don’t need to put your name if you don’t want to!