FOI reference - FOI 2011-11-22
Date - 22/11/2011

Request

Policies/internal guidelines/procedures for the handling of ‘whistle blowing' complaints as a ‘prescribed regulator’ for the purposes of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

 

Details of the number of individuals who have contacted you in relation to your duties as a prescribed regulator between the years 2005-2010:

i) Provide details of whether each individual contacted you on an anonymous, confidential, or self identified basis, a brief summary of the types of concerns raised and the action taken

ii) If information was passed on to another regulator or local authority enforcement team please indicate this and specify whether the concern was monitored by the Regulator following referral

iii) Please identify (if appropriate) whether any subsequent action was taken.

 

Provide information as to the number of Employment Tribunal claim forms referred to you following commencement of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment Regulations) 2010 on 06/04/2010:

i) Provide an overview of the type of organisation the individual works in, the concern raised and the action taken by the Regulator.  If the information was passed on to another regulator or enforcement organisation please identify this and specify whether the concern was monitored by the Regulator/

Response

For the sake of clarity I shall address each of your three questions in turn, and for each question set out whether the regulator holds the information requested, what relevant information, if any, we are able to supply, and what information, if any, we are not able to supply and why.
 

1) Policies/internal guidelines/procedures for the handling of ‘whistle blowing complaints as a ‘prescribed regulator’ for the purposes of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

 

Duty to confirm or deny whether the regulator holds information requested:

 

I can confirm that the regulator does hold information relevant to your request.

 

Information we are able to supply:

 

The regulator receives statutory reports from professionals who have an obligation to report breaches of law to us.  The Pensions Regulator has guidelines and procedures to address the obligations to report breaches under section 48 of the Pensions Act 1995 and section 70 of the Pensions Act 2004. Those guidelines and procedures include provision for people to raise concerns with the regulator on an anonymous basis, but do not currently include specific provisions for contact from whistle blowers.

 

The regulator has a published Code of practice on reporting breaches of law:

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/code-01-reporting-breaches-of-law.pdf

 

Duty to provide advice and assistance:

 

The Pensions Act 2008 introduced a new statutory objective to 'maximise employer compliance with employer duties’. In 2012 changes to pensions law will affect all employers with at least one worker in the UK, as they will have a duty to automatically enrol their employees into a qualifying pension scheme.

 

Employees who make a disclosure to the regulator alleging that their employer has breached the Employer Duties in the Pensions Act will be protected under the provisions of PIDA. In light of this new guidance relating to whistle blowing reports subject to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) will be published in early 2012. 

 

Mindful of our responsibilities under section 16 FOIA to provide advice and assistance I will ensure that a copy of the new guidance will be provided to you upon publication. Please advise if you would like the information electronically or in hardcopy.

 

2)      Details of the number of individuals who have contacted you in relation to your duties as a prescribed regulator between the years 2005-2010

I. Provide details of whether each individual contacted you on an anonymous, confidential, or self identified basis, a brief summary of the types of concerns raised and the action taken

II. If information was passed on to another regulator or local authority enforcement team please indicate this and specify whether the concern was monitored by the Regulator following referral

III. Please identify (if appropriate) whether any subsequent action was taken.

 

Duty to confirm or deny whether the regulator holds information requested:

 

I can confirm that the regulator does not hold all of the information you have requested in the form in which you have asked.

 

Information we are able to supply:

 

The regulator receives statutory reports from professionals who have an obligation to report breaches of law to us, for example auditors, actuaries, trustees, managers and other advisors and professionals.  In the Regulator's Annual report and accounts for 2010-2011 we reported that a total of 337 whistleblower reports were received regarding breaches of law.

 

Annual report and accounts 2010-2011 (see page 25)

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/annual-report-and-accounts-2010-2011.pdf

 

Annual report and accounts 2009-2010 (see page 38)

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/annual-report-and-accounts-2009-2010.pdf

 

542 whistleblowers’ breach of law reports were received.

 

Annual report and accounts 2008-2009 (see page 46)

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/annual-report-and-accounts-2008-2009.pdf

 

532 whistleblowers’ breach of law reports were received.

 

Annual report and accounts 2007-2008 (see page 42)

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/annual-report-and-accounts-2007-2008.pdf

 

513 whistleblowers’ breach of law reports were received.

 

Annual report and accounts 2006-2007 (see page 39)

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/annual-report-and-accounts-2006-2007.pdf

 

1,233 whistleblowers’ breach of law reports were received.

 

Information we are not able to supply and why:

 

During 2005-2006 the regulator was still in the process of implementing the processes for whistle blowing reports and therefore though they would have dealt with some reports had not implemented the systems required for the collection of statistics in order to formally report in the annual report and accounts for that year. 

 

The figures quoted in the Annual Report and Accounts for 2006 – 2010 relate to whistle blowers under a statutory obligation to report breaches under section 48 of the Pensions Act 1995 and Section 70 of the Pensions Act 2004. Specific information regarding contact from other types of whistleblowers is not currently recorded in such a format as to permit ready extraction of the requested information or to break the information down into the categories you have requested at ii and iii of your request. 

 

Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act allows public authorities to refuse to answer requests for information if the cost of complying would exceed the 'appropriate limit' prescribed in the Fees Regulations (SI 2004/3244). The relevant limit for the regulator is £450, which at the standard rate of £25 per hour equates to 18 hours of work.

 

It would take the regulator considerably in excess of 18 hours to analyse this data in order to provide the requested information. By way of indication, a detailed analysis of the 5012 activities recorded between September and November 2010 took 44 hours of staff time. Consequently, the regulator is not obliged by the Freedom of Information Act to respond to your request.

 

Duty to provide advice and assistance:

 

I can confirm that the regulator does currently have a project in place to design and implement a specific procedure for handling and recording contact from whistle blowers taking into account the potential for increased whistle blowing reports the regulator may receive from employees when auto enrolment commences as set out in my response above. 

 

3) Provide information as to the number of Employment Tribunal claim forms referred to you following commencement of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment Regulations) 2010 on 06/04/2010

I. Provide an overview of the type of organisation the individual works in, the concern raised and the action taken by the regulator. If the information was passed on to another regulator or enforcement organisation please identify this and specify whether the concern was monitored by the regulator/

 

Duty to confirm or deny whether the regulator holds information requested:

 

I can confirm that the regulator does not hold all of the information you have requested in the form in which you have asked.

 

Information we are able to supply:

 

I can confirm that the regulator has not received any employment tribunal claim forms since 6 April 2010.

© The Pensions Regulator