How does whistleblowing help companies?

We are particularly interested in hearing from whistleblowers  and their representatives, those involved in Employment Tribunal claims brought by whistleblowers, and HR and Audit professionals who investigate disclosures.

Even if a whistleblower uncovers a scandal they may still be perceived as disloyal and unemployable, which is why anonymity is key. Requiring employees or others to blow the whistle can be dangerous because it can put individuals between a rock and a hard place, at risk of losing their job if they do or don't make a disclosure.  At the same time organisations struggle to understand whether a high or low number of disclosures is preferable.  The situation is complicated by the possibility of financial rewards for whistleblowers, and reputational risks for organsiations who discriminate against whistleblowers. These are just a few of the dilemmas, and the questions which arise seem endless. 

Is whistleblowing a safety value which companies should encourage, or are whistleblowers usually self-interested opportunists? How can we get the balance right? Is the Public Interest Disclosure Act fit for purpose? What is the best way for whistleblowing to evolve in the UK?  Please share your views and experiences.

  • A chicken/egg question.

    Given that whistleblowing is not mandatory, and trust in governments, businesses and other institutions is at an all-time low, is further protective legislation in this area destined to fail? Regulatory capture, revolving doors and bulletproof execs are all potential topics for discussion here.

    Or can legislation breed trust?
  • With headlines such as this: Barclays chief executive Jes Staley quizzed by regulators investigating him over attempts to ID whistleblower, does more need to be done to make people feel protected? Full article in City A.M.

  • A recent report underlines the variations in whistleblowing in different parts of the world. It seems that whistleblows which originate in Europe are more reliable than those which originate in Africa, Asia, Australia, or North and South America. However, anonymous reporting is also much more popular in Europe than elsewhere. There needs to be some soul searching about why whistleblowers in Europe are scared of revealing their identity even when what they are saying is true.
  • When re-writing the Whistleblowing policy for my organisation, I benchmarked against various other public sector bodies.  I was stunned at the tone taken by some, especially in the health sector, that seemed to have as much about the possible disciplinary action taken against staff who whistleblow than about protection under the policy, encouraging those who witness problems to speak out etc. etc.  Obviously organisations have to protect against malicious allegations, but there is a great difference between subsequently unsubstantiated and malicious allegations and many policies out there don't seem to recognise this.

    I am aware of one employee in the health sector (not NHS) who raised concerns about discriminatory behaviour by other staff members.  His allegations were passed in full, including his details, to one of the other staff member that the concerns were about, as part of the 'investigation' and the first time he was aware his name had not been kept confidential was a letter from a lawyer accusing him of defamation.

  • The UK’s PIDA may soon lose its status as best in class. The European Parliament’s non-legislative resolution, adopted last week,  is the strongest signal yet that the horizontal protections for whistleblowers are about to be formally implemented, and these protections will go further than PIDA.   For example, companies who take retaliatory action against whistleblowers may not receive EU funds; compulsory awareness raising in cooperation with trade unions; special reporting procedures required for information involving respect for professional ethics, national security and defence; Member States to formally evaluate the effectiveness of domestic measures including cross-sectoral surveys and independent research; whistleblowers guaranteed feedback about investigations and the right to comment on the outcome;  investigations to be conducted independently; protection of physical, moral and social integrity of whistleblowers and their families; whistleblowers to get compensation pending the conclusion of court cases; gagging orders to be subject to criminal penalties; and breaches of anonymity to be subject to sanctions.