Protected Disclosures

Protected Disclosures (“Whistle-blower”) Policy

Evolve Education Group is committed to the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour in all of our business activities. The organisation facilitates and encourages the reporting of any instances of serious wrongdoing involving the Evolve Education Group via Protected Disclosures, in accordance with the Protected Disclosures Act (‘the Act’).

Evolve provides protections and measures to employees who make Protected Disclosures, so that they may do so confidentially and without fear of intimidation, disadvantage, or reprisal.

Purpose:

The purpose of this policy is to facilitate the disclosure and investigation of Protected Disclosures of serious wrongdoing, in accordance with the Act. And also,  to protect those employees who make such a Protected Disclosure.

Coverage:

This policy applies to Protected Disclosures made by:

  • an officer, employee, former employee, or contractor of Evolve;

  • an individual who supplies goods or services to Evolve;

  • an employee of a person or entity who supplies goods or services to Evolve (whether paid or unpaid);

  • an individual who is an associate of Evolve (meaning a director or secretary of Evolve or of its related bodies corporate, or a person acting in concert with Evolve); and

  • a relative or dependant of any of the persons listed above.

Serious Wrongdoing:

Individuals may make a report serious wrongdoing under this policy if they have objective, reasonable grounds to suspect that an Evolve Director, officer, team member, contractor, supplier, tenderer, or other person who has business dealings with Evolve has engaged in conduct  or activities which constitute serious wrongdoing, as follows:

  • is dishonest, fraudulent, or corrupt, including bribery;

  • is illegal activity (such as theft, violence, harassment or intimidation, criminal damage to property or other breaches of state or federal law);

  • is unethical or in breach of Evolve’s policies (such as dishonestly altering company records or data, adopting questionable accounting practices or wilfully breaching Evolve’s Code of Conduct or other policies or procedures);

  • is potentially damaging to Evolve, an Evolve team member or a third party, such as unsafe work practices, environmental damage, health risks or abuse of Evolve’s property or resources;

  • amounts to an abuse of authority;

  • may cause financial loss to Evolve or damage its reputation or be otherwise detrimental to Evolve’s interests;

  • involves serious wrongdoing in Evolve or by Evolve, including any criminal offences or any act or omission or course of conduct that constitutes a serious risk to public health or safety or the environment;

  • involves threats (expressly or impliedly) to take any retaliatory action against another person, where such action is taken against that person because they have made or may make a disclosure that qualifies for protection under this Policy or because they provide voluntary supporting information. Retaliatory action includes any victimisation, bullying, discrimination, or harassment, whether against a Evolve employee or another person; or

  • involves any other kind of misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances.

What Does Not Constitute Serious Wrongdoing:

This policy is not intended to apply to disclosures relating to conduct concerning a person’s individual employment or former employment (other than as set out in serious wrongdoing section of this policy), such as:

  • an interpersonal conflict at work;

  • a decision relating to engagement, transfer, or promotion;

  • a decision relating to terms and conditions of engagement; or

  • a decision to suspend or terminate the engagement or to discipline the person.

These matters will not be deemed to be serious wrongdoing, do not fall within the scope of this policy, and will typically be investigated or addressed separately.

Making Protected Disclosures:

To a Protected Disclosure Officer

In order to ensure appropriate escalation if a disclosure is made internally, and timely investigation, we request that Protected Disclosure reports are made to any one of our Protected Disclosure Officers, listed below:

Bev Davies                                          Phone: 027 213 2284
GM, People and Talent                  bev.davies@eeg.co.nz

Edmund Mah                                     Phone: 022 585 0051                           

Chief Financial Officer                    edmund.mah@eeg.co.nz

                                                        

By post

Reports may also be posted to Evolve Education Group, PO Box 105843, Auckland City 1143 (marked Private & Confidential and to the attention of one of the Protected Disclosure Officers mentioned above).

In order to qualify for protection, the disclosure must be made to one of the recipients outlined above, or any other recipient prescribed by law, such as an “officer” or “senior manager” of the company (includes a director, or a senior manager in the company who makes, or participates in making, decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of the business of the company, or who has the capacity to affect significantly the company’s financial standing).

Serious wrongdoing will not be protected if the disclosing party:

  • knows the allegations to be false or acts in bad faith; or

  • discloses information protected by legal professional privilege.

Investigating Serious Wrongdoing:

Evolve will investigate all reports of serious wrongdoing reported under this policy as soon as practicable after the matter has been reported. A Protected Disclosure Officer may, with your consent, appoint a person to assist in the investigation of a report.

Where appropriate, Evolve will provide feedback to the individual making the report regarding the investigation’s progress and/or outcome (subject to considerations of the privacy of those against whom allegations are made).

The investigation will be conducted in an objective and fair manner, and otherwise as is reasonable and appropriate having regard to the nature of the serious wrongdoing and the circumstances.

While the particular investigation process and enquiries adopted will be determined by the nature and substance of the report, in general, as soon as practicable upon receipt of the report, if the report is not anonymous, a Protected Disclosure Officer or delegate will contact the individual making the report,  to discuss the investigation process, including who may be contacted and such other matters as are relevant to the investigation.

Where a report is submitted anonymously, Evolve will conduct the investigation and its enquiries based on the information provided to it.

Protection of Whistle-blowers

Evolve is committed to ensuring confidentiality in respect of all matters raised under this policy, and that those who make a report of serious wrongdoing in accordance with the Act,  are treated fairly and do not suffer detriment.

(a) Protection against detrimental conduct

If an individual making a report in accordance with the Act is subjected to detrimental treatment as a result of making a report under this policy then they should:

  • inform a Protected Disclosure Officer, officer, or senior manager of Evolve immediately; or

  • raise it in accordance with this policy.

Evolve will not tolerate whistle-blowers suffering threats of any retaliatory action or actual retaliatory action as a result of making a disclosure or report or because they may make a disclosure or report under this Policy. Any such actions taken may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

(b) Protection of  identity and confidentiality

Subject to compliance with legal requirements, upon receiving a report under this policy, Evolve will only share  the identity of a whistle-blower or information likely to reveal their identity if:

  • they consent;

  • the person who has acquired knowledge of the protected report reasonably believes that the disclosure of identifying information is essential to the effective investigation of the allegations in the report or to prevent serious risk to public health or safety or the environment or is essential having regards to the principles of natural justice; or

  • the concern is raised with a lawyer for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or representation.

If Evolve needs to investigate a report, it may disclose information that could lead to identification of a whistle-blower, but it will take reasonable steps to reduce this risk.

Any disclosures of identity or information likely to reveal identity will only be made to an employee, advisor, or contractor of Evolve, who reasonably has a need to investigate, report on, or respond to, the matters raised in the report.

(c) Protection of files and records

All files and records created from an investigation will be retained securely.

Unauthorised release of information to someone not involved in the investigation (other than senior managers or directors who need to know to take appropriate action, or for corporate governance purposes) without the consent of a whistle-blower will be a breach of this policy.

Whistle-blowers are assured that a release of information in breach of this policy will be regarded as a serious matter and will be dealt with under Evolve’ disciplinary procedures.

Employees considering making, or who have made reports of serious wrongdoing in accordance with the Act, can also seek further advice from The Ombudsmen.

The contact details are as follows:
                The Ombudsman
                PO Box 10152
                Wellington 6143
                Phone: 0800 802 602
                Email: info@ombudsman.parliament.nz
                Web: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz

 

Duties of team members in relation to Serious Wrongdoing

It is expected that Evolve’ team members who become aware of actual or suspect on reasonable grounds, potential cases of serious wrongdoing, will make a report under this policy or under other applicable policies.