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How whistleblowers could save your business

Whistleblowing is actually essential for a transparent and efficient working environment. By encouraging employees to feel safe and confident enough to speak up honestly, having a whistleblowing policy means organizations can safeguard their integrity and reputation.
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John Sherman
2017-09-11

Whistleblowers often get a bad name, but without their actions, serious illegality would remain undiscovered.

Whistleblowers should be praised and commended for their bravery, as well as their invaluable service to their organization.

Whether it’s another employee abusing their sick leave or fraudulently stealing money from public clients, whistleblowing exposes the wrongdoing and brings the perpetrators to justice.

That’s why it’s important for organizations to educate their employees on how whistleblowing really works, why it can benefit the workplace and how the law will protect you in the process. This will dispel the negativity unfairly attached to whistleblowing.

Why blow the whistle?

This section explains the importance of whistleblowing for the safety and integrity of an organization, as well as how it can safeguard employees and the wider public from wrongdoing.

The content gives helpful examples of how misconduct can be a variety of dishonest, illegal and dangerous practices - ranging from minor to complex issues. In addition, wrongdoing can be internal or external, committed by any employee of an organization.

Barriers to blowing the whistle

The course also addresses the stigma that’s attached to whistleblowing. For example, an employee can initially feel like a ‘snitch’ and speaking out can at first seem disloyal to their employer.

But, there are many good reasons for whistleblowing, such as saving lives, money and reputation. This section looks to cement the understanding that whistleblowing is important and the responsibility of all employees.

Who is protected?

This next topic clarifies that any worker who speaks out against wrongdoing in their organization is protected by law from victimisation, putting to bed the rumours that you’ll expose yourself to trouble.

The content explains that the meaning of ‘worker’ has a wide interpretation, which also extends to self-employed, agency workers and trainees.

Revealing the misconduct is viewed as a qualifying disclosure, which becomes a protected disclosure if it’s communicated to the right person in an appropriate way.

Complaint or blowing the whistle?

It’s important to know the difference between making a complaint where you have been poorly treated personally and voicing a concern about an illegal or dangerous practice taking place in an organization.

This topic looks to illustrate this difference and allow employees to understand how a personal complaint can be upsetting for you, but won’t secure qualifying disclosure.

Raising a concern

This section explains how employees can raise their issues about a wrongdoing that has happened in the past, is happening currently or could happen in the future, so it’s clear what to do.

The law will protect a whistleblower that’s reported criminal offences, failures to comply with legal obligations, health and safety threats, damage to the environment, and miscarriages of justice (or cover-up actions).

Who to tell

For whistleblowers to be protected by law, there’s a certain process that they must go through. This section details that you have to make sure to inform the right person in good faith about the situation.

There’s a variety of people you can tell depending on the situation, such as a health and safety representative or another prescribed body. You can always seek professional advice prior to raising a concern to ensure no mistakes are made.

What your employer or a prescribed person will do

This section explains how an employer or prescribed person will listen to an employee’s concern and take this matter further, based on the information they are given.

In particular, you should let the professional know straight away if you want to remain anonymous. While you can be kept informed about the action that’s taken, not all details will be communicated to you, due to confidentiality.

If an employee is unsatisfied with how their concern has been handled, you can express this discrepancy to an independent body, such as ACAS or a trade union who can provide you with support.

Whistleblowing – final summary

This finalizing section will tie loose ends together and provide a succinct summary of all the information covered about whistleblowing that the employee has learned.

It will recap how you must be a worker to blow the whistle and the concern you seek to voice is in the public interest. In addition, the law will protect you if you communicate your concern to the right person in the correct way.

Your employer or prescribed person must listen to your concern and if you are unsatisfied in how they deal with your information, you can seek support from an independent body.

What’s included

This interactive e-learning course uses animated videos to explain content, with an engaging voice-over and easy to read slides. In addition, there’s a short quiz at the end for employees to test their whistleblowing knowledge.

Why whistleblowing is important

Whistleblowing is the only real and effective way to combat illegal or dangerous wrongdoing in the workplace. After all, your employees are your eyes and ears in the day-to-day running of business.

When an employee brings any misconduct to light, it protects other employees, clients and potentially, the organization itself.

An open-door policy on whistleblowing can start the road to important corporate changes that will allow an organization to thrive, without any damaging illegality lurking undetected in the background. This will lead to the promotion of good business ethics.

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