Information about UCL's Third Party Notification Group (TPNG)
Research funders are increasingly requiring recipient organisations to provide notice of matters with potential to adversely impact research they support, in particular as this relates to bullying, harassment and misconduct. Such as, the Wellcome Trust Policy on bullying and harassment; the CRUK Policy on Dignity at Work in Research, and the BHF’s Policy on Bullying and Harassment
UCL’s Third Party Notification Group has been established to:
- Provide consistent expert advice and support to the relevant UCL policy owner in the interpretation of, and compliance with, UCL’s contractual and regulatory obligations (to notify third parties);
- Ensure that such notice(s) adhere to UCL’s principles of Fairness, Confidentiality, Integrity, Prevention of Detriment, and Balance; are GDPR Compliant; and are auditable;
- Develop mechanisms in support of the above.
Terms of Reference
- The Third Party Notification Group brings together UCL’s senior administrative officers to collectively assess and advise upon UCL’s contractual and regulatory obligations to provide notice of potential matters of Research Misconduct; Public Interest Disclosure; Fraud; or Bullying and Harassment, to third parties including (but not limited to) Funders, Collaborators / Research Partners, NHS Trusts (or other Sponsor), UCLB etc.
- The Third Party Notification Group will liaise directly with Funders to secure written assurances regarding the handling of UCL confidential information, ahead of such information being shared.
- The Third Party Notification Group will (initially) report to the Research Governance Committee and be chaired by the relevant senior UCL policy owner together with the group’s Co-Chair.
- Matters arising under Research Misconduct Policy to be chaired by Vice Provost Research or Registrar, or their delegate.
- Matters arising under Fraud Policy to be chaired by the Chief Operating Officer or Director of Finance and Business Affairs, or their delegate.
- Matters arising under Public Interest Disclosure Policy to be chaired by the Chief Operating Officer, or their delegate.
- Matters arising under the Grievance Policy, Disciplinary Policy or Statute 18 to be chaired by the Chief Operating Officer or Director of Human Resources, or their delegate.
4. The Third Party Notification Group will be constituted of:
Senior UCL Policy Owner or their delegate (as appropriate)
Chair (see above)
Director of Research Evaluation, and Director of Strategic Planning (OVPR)
Director of Legal Services or their delegate
Provision of legal advice in the interpretation of external requirements, statutory obligations and when legal risk is identified; consultation with Data Protection Office; Provision of advice in the drafting of notices; Approval of notice(s)
Director of Employee Relations and Policy or their delegate
Provision of advice in the interpretation of UCL’s HR policies; engagement with Legal Services where legal risk identified (e.g. statute 18 or where litigation threatened or has been brought); Provision of advice in the drafting of notices; Approval of notice(s)
Director of Research Services or their delegate
Verification of associated research funding; Assessment of Funders’ requirements; Assessment of other contractual obligations; engagement with Legal Services where legal risk identified
- The Chair may invite additional members relevant to the case as they consider appropriate such as the Investigating Officer; the Director of Research Support (JRO) for clinical research matters.
- The Third Party Notification Group will be notified at the appropriate point within the relevant procedure (as determined within the associated policy), via the dedicated and restricted email address email@example.com. Secretarial support will be provided by Research Services.
- The Third Party Notification Group referral template will require details of:
- The policy under which the matter has been referred e.g. Research Misconduct; Public Interest Disclosure; Fraud; or the Dignity at Work / Grievance Policy.
- The date of referral.
- The name and position of the Investigating Officer.
- The identity of the Respondent(s) - to be shared with core members only.
- A description of the allegation / complaint.
- Any known sources of internal and external funding.
- Any known internal and external collaborators.
- Any known other third parties.
- Any known associated information within the public domain.
- The procedural stage (e.g. Screening).
- The procedural stage outcome (e.g. Referral from Screening to Formal Investigation).
- The date of outcome.
- Any mitigating interventions required, planned or implemented (mandatory for cases in which staff have been suspended) as these relate to research activities e.g. temporary transfer of grant holder.
- The Third Party Notification Group will prepare a Case Notification Plan which will clearly set out:
- All identified parties requiring notice (identification of such parties will require input from the relevant Investigating / Named Officer).
- The relevant policy, contractual obligation or regulatory obligation underpinning such notice e.g. the Funder’s Research Misconduct Policy.
- The notice or notices (recognising in some cases may involve numerous third parties, with varying requirements). The drafting of such notice(s) will follow the principles of Fairness, Confidentiality, Integrity, Prevention of Detriment, and Balance; and be GDPR Compliant. In cases involving Statute 18 or where any other significant legal risk has been identified, advice should be sought from Legal Services and the Case Notification Plan may include a distinct legal advice section where appropriate. The name of person responsible (to be reached in consultation with relevant stakeholders) for providing such notice (recognising that this will be dependent on the details of the case and the notice recipient), with supporting guidance. Noting, that where possible (and appropriate) formal notification should be limited to a subset of UCL Officers, and will default to the Director of Research Services.
- Timeliness of communication is pivotal, as such the Third Party Notification Group will seek to consult within three working days of receiving a referral, and seek to produce a Case Notification Plan within 10 working days. For non-complex matters such consultation may be via email. The approach taken by the group should be commensurate with the complexity of the referred case, developing / adopting standardised approaches wherever possible.
- The Case Notification Plan (and subsequent updates) will be submitted to the Vice Provost Research, the Vice Provost Health (for SLMS matters only) and the relevant Faculty Dean(s) for approval. A record of the plan will be securely held by the Third Party Notification Group secretary.
- The Case Notification Plan will be updated by the Third Party Notification Group (in response to progress updates by the Investigating Officer) during the course of the Investigation to include status notices. It may also be updated to include additional parties, if these become evident during the course of the investigation.
- The Third Party Notification Group will provide periodic (pseudonymised) summary reports (frequency TBD) to the Research Governance Committee and to the relevant Policy Owner e.g. summary reports on research misconduct matters will be reported periodically (frequency TBD) to the Registrar.