The voice of conscience

The Governance Academy examines the motivation of blowing the whistle and takes a look at the updated Charity Commission guidance on whistle blowing.

The key thing nowadays is that employees of charities can report concerns of a serious nature to the Charity Commission and be protected in law by the Public Interest Disclosure Act. The concerns must fall within "protected disclosures". For a disclosure about a charity to be protected it must be:

  • made to the Charity Commission
  • must concern a matter that qualifies for protection and these include: a criminal offence; the breach of a legal obligation; a miscarriage of justice; a danger to health and safety of any individual; damage to the environment; deliberate concealment of information tending to show any of the above. And the employee must: make the disclosure in good faith; reasonably believe that the relevant failure relates to "the proper administration of charities and funds given, or held, for charitable purposes"; reasonably believe that the information disclosed and any allegation contained in it are substantially true.

Employees should check the Whistle Blowing Policy of their employer. Employees should also seek advice from a charity called Public Concern at Work 020 7404 6609 before taking any whistle blowing action.

Trustees are not covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Trustees should bear in mind the collective responsibility of trustees. There is a fact sheet about collective responsibility on the Governance Academy pages

Also, trustees should check the Whistle Blowing Policy of the charity and the Trustee Whistle Blowing Policy also. If your charity does not have one there is a template in the academy pages.

Finally, the trustees should not take whistle blowing action without taking advice from Public Concern at Work.

It is worth bearing in mind that volunteers are not covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act either.

You can read the full Charity Commission guidance

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