WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY & PROCEDURE

Purpose

The Oakville Public Library (OPL) is committed to the principles of integrity, accountability and openness. OPL's Staff Code of Conduct requires staff at all levels of the organization to observe high standards of business and personal ethics in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities.

This policy establishes a process for individuals to bring forward information about wrongdoing by OPL staff, or others, in good faith without fear of reprisal. This process can also be used if the complainant wants to remain anonymous. The policy also provides protection from retaliation to those who report suspected acts of wrongdoing in good faith.

Nothing in this policy is intended to conflict with or override the terms of the Code of Conduct or employment contracts, nor is it intended to create an independent reporting mechanism where another process exists.

Background

The Whistleblower Policy and Procedure is intended to be used in situations where other established OPL reporting mechanisms do not result in an outcome acceptable to the complainant or in cases where the Whistleblower deems this method to be the most appropriate for raising a complaint.

Scope

This policy applies to all OPL staff including part-time, full-time, contract and on-call staff.

Definitions

Whistleblower: A person who calls attention, in good faith, to an act of wrongdoing in an attempt to have the activity brought to an end.
Wrongdoing: Illegal or inappropriate conduct, including violations specifically outlined in OPL's Code of Conduct.

Wrongdoing includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • violation or non-compliance with any law, regulation or policy;
  • unethical or unprofessional conduct;
  • unauthorized use, misuse or waste of OPL resources or funds;
  • continuing to act while in a real or perceived conflict of interest.

Policy

  • Staff has a responsibility to report instances of suspected wrongdoing as defined in this policy. Staff reporting suspected wrongdoing are expected to do so in good faith and should be prepared to demonstrate reasonable grounds for believing the report to be valid.
  • Under this policy, staff reporting suspected wrongdoing in good faith will be protected from retaliation.
  • Staff reporting their own wrongdoing will not be exempt from discipline appropriate to the wrongdoing; however such reporting will be given due consideration as a mitigating factor in determining the level of discipline issued.
  • Any staff member who uses threats, force, intimidation or duress to dissuade a person from making a report under this policy will be considered to be in violation of this policy and will be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Knowingly making false or malicious allegations will also be considered to be a violation of this policy. Reports found to be frivolous, false, malicious or in bad faith will be dealt with in accordance with this policy.

Procedure

  • A staff member who believes a wrongdoing has been committed will report the wrongdoing by either calling the Town of Oakville's Ethics and Efficiency hotline or filing a report on the Ethics and Efficiency website (see Appendix A). The Ethics and Efficiency hotline and website are monitored by a neutral third party. Once a report of wrongdoing at the library has been received through either the hotline or the website, an e-mail is sent notifying the Town of Oakville's CAO, Director, Internal Audit and the Commissioner Community Services Commission. The Commissioner, Community Services Commission will then forward the report to OPL's Board Chair and CEO via e-mail as soon possible. The complaint will be brought to the Board for discussion at the next Board meeting. The status of all pending complaints will be reviewed in closed sessions at each regularly scheduled Board meeting. These closed sessions will not include any OPL staff unless requested by the Board.
  • At the direction of the Board, an OPL manager, or a third party may be assigned the authority to investigate the complaint. The choice of an investigator will be made on a case by case basis, depending on the nature and significance of the complaint as well as the need to maintain confidentiality and anonymity.
  • Through the course of the investigation all staff made aware of the alleged conduct are expected to maintain confidentiality and not discuss the matter with the media, or any other person except as directed by the investigator.
  • The investigator will draft a summary report of the investigation and will submit this report to the Board for review in a closed session at the next Board meeting. The Board may invite OPL staff to the closed session at their discretion, respecting requests for confidentiality. The Board will recommend what action should be taken to resolve the issue as well as what steps need to be taken to mitigate future risks. The CEO and/or Board Chair will update the Board at the next Board meeting as to the status of the recommendations. Where appropriate, the CEO and/or Board Chair will inform the person who made the complaint what the general outcome of the investigation was, subject to legal constraints and the confidential nature of the investigation.

Confidentiality

  • Every reasonable effort will be made to provide confidentiality to those reporting wrongdoing where requested, including protecting their identity when possible while still discharging OPL's obligation to investigate matters raised. In situations where a violation of the law occurs, the library may be required to release the identity of the whistleblower.
  • Confidentiality extends to all records relating to reports, including but not limited to, meetings, interviews and investigation results. Personal information, including the identity of the person reporting the alleged wrongdoing, will be protected in accordance with Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). Whistleblowers, investigators, witnesses and individuals against whom a report has been made are expected to maintain confidentiality. Breaches of confidentiality will be regarded as wrongdoing under this policy.

Roles and Responsibilities

Board Chair and CEO Responsibilities include:

  • Notifying the Board of all reports of wrongdoing received
  • Updating the Board on the investigation process
  • Ensuring appropriate communication is maintained with the Whistleblower.

FAC Responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing the Whistleblower Policy
  • Oversight of the Whistleblower Program

Board

  • Approving the Whistleblower Policy.
  • Assigning investigations of concerns;
  • Discussing concerns with third party legal counsel as required;
  • Recommending and approving actions to be taken to resolve complaints

Director, Human Resources & Corporate Services

  • Developing and maintaining the Whistleblower Policy in consultation with the FAC.
  • Ensuring that appropriate filing of confidential reports occurs.

Protection Against Retaliation

Any form of retaliation, discrimination or reprisal against a staff member because that person reported wrongdoing in good faith or because that person acted as a witness or otherwise participated in an investigation in good faith will be considered a violation of this policy.

If a staff member as outlined above believes that he or she has been subject to retaliation he or she should submit a report using the Ethics and Efficiency hotline or website. The same procedure will be followed as is outlined in this policy for dealing with the original complaint.

APPENDIX A

Ethics & Efficiency Hotline: 1-855-384-4288

Ethics & Efficiency Website: oakville.ethics-efficiency.ca

Final Approval Date: September 26, 2013      Motion #: 13.09.84
Next Review Date: 2017
Filed in:Section 9.2 of the Human Resources Manual, Board Manual, Added to Website


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