Whistleblower is a person who makes a disclosure of any unethical activity to Ombudsman that has been observed which includes violation of any law, rule, regulation or code of business ethics and conduct or any organization policy or fraudulent and corrupt practices.
Ombudsman is organization designated person who should be contacted by whistleblower at first place by email / hot line / letter. Ombudsman performs preliminary fact findings to identify whether adequate information has been produced by whistleblower and whether further investigation is required, whether communication with whistleblower is required to obtain further information. Generally, tracker of all compliant received is presented to Whistleblower Committee.
Objective of Whistleblower Policy should be:
· To ensure strict compliance with ethical and legal standards across the organization,
· To create a Single Point of Contact for any person who observes any unethical practice
· To encourage timely, safe and open reporting of alleged wrong doings or suspected impropriety
· To ensure consistent and timely institutional response
· To ensure appropriate reporting of whistleblower investigations and,
· To encourage ethical and lawful conduct
Scope of Whistleblower Policy:
It should define and lay down the process for raising a ‘protected disclosure’, safeguards to person raising a protected disclosure, the roles and responsibilities of all stake holders and time lines for all processes to be followed. In all instances, the Organization should retain the prerogative to determine when circumstances warrant an investigation and, in conformity with Whistleblower Policy and applicable laws and regulations, the appropriate investigative process to be employed.
Applicability of Whistleblower Policy:
This policy should cover all employees, third party vendors, consultants and customers throughout the world, operating out of any location of the Organization.
It should be the duty of all employees to notify the organization if they observe, or learn of, any unethical business conduct or illegal acts. Failure to promptly raise a known or suspected violation should also be considered an unethical behavior.
Procedure of Investigation
The following investigation process should be adhered to by the Organization on receipt of the protected disclosure by the Whistleblower Committee:
· The Whistleblower Committee should determine whether the disclosure actually pertains to an unethical activity within defined SLA. If the disclosure is against any member of the Committee, such member should not participate in the proceedings and should be suspended from the Committee until the final outcome.
· If the Whistleblower Committee decides that the information received does not constitute a protected disclosure, then the submitter can be informed of the said conclusion.
· In case the Whistleblower Committee determines that the information constitutes a protected disclosure, depending on the content of the disclosure so made, the investigation procedure should be determined.
· The Investigator should file its report to the Whistleblower Committee along with the recommendations for next steps defined SLA. The report should contain the description and wherever feasible a copy of all the documents relied on, a list of witnesses and the statements made, if any and any other material relied on by the Investigator.
· The Whistleblower Committee should base its decision on the report submitted by the Investigator. In case the final decision taken is at variance with the report and recommendations of the Investigator, the Whistleblower Committee should record detailed reasons in writing. Depending on the decision taken the Whistleblower Committee can reconstitute the Investigator to carry out a fresh investigation or ask the existing Investigator to relook into the findings.
· It should be the discretion of the Whistleblower Committee to inform the Whistleblower of the final outcome of the protected disclosure made.
· All documentation pertaining to the complaint including but not restricted to the investigation report, corrective action taken and evidence should be maintained by the Whistleblower Committee.
Generally, Whistleblower Committee reports to Audit Committee or Board of Directors and all the reported cases should be presented to Audit Committee.
The Organization should use best efforts to protect whistleblowers against retaliation, as described below.
· The Organization should keep the whistleblower's identity confidential, unless
o the person agrees to be identified;
o identification should be necessary to allow the Organization or law enforcement officials to investigate or respond effectively to the report;
o identification should be required by law; or
o the person accused of Compliance violations should be entitled to the information as a matter of legal right in disciplinary proceedings.
· The Organization should prohibit retaliation against a whistleblower with the intent or effect of adversely affecting the terms or conditions of employment (including but not limited to, threats of physical harm, loss of job, punitive work assignments, or impact on salary or wages). Whistleblowers who believe that they have been retaliated against may file a written complaint with the Whistleblower Committee. A proven complaint of retaliation should result in a proper remedy for the person harmed and severe disciplinary action including termination of employment against the retaliating person. This protection from retaliation should be not intended to prohibit managers or supervisors from taking action, including disciplinary action, in the usual scope of their duties and based on valid performance-related factors.