Although not directly covered by the Ethical Standards Framework, Board members have a responsibility to ensure that staff have confidence in the fairness and impartiality of procedures for registering and dealing with their concerns and interests. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 gives legal protection to employees who raise certain matters or concerns, known as 'qualifying disclosures', without fear of reprisal. As a Board member, you should ensure that your public body has a whistleblowing policy and appropriate procedures in place. This will allow staff to raise concerns on a range of issues such as fraud, health and safety etc. without having to go through the normal management structure. Audit Scotland has published guidance on employers' and employees' responsibilities in relation to whistleblowing.
Public Bodies not covered by the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000
The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 makes provision for Scottish Ministers to introduce a Code or Codes of Conduct under the Public Authorities Regime for bodies not listed in Schedule 3 to the Act. While such public bodies and their Board members will be expected to act in accordance with this Code of Conduct, they will not be subject to investigation by the Commissioner or to sanctions by the Standards Commission.
Irrespective of the extent to which a public body is covered by the Ethical Standards Act, Board members are required to adhere to the principles that underpin the ethical standards framework and have regard to the provisions set out in the Model Code of Conduct in carrying out their public duties.
Email: Gordon Quinn