Having the confidence to speak up about illegal or fraudulent actions which, once reported, could result in unwanted consequences for the whistleblower is often easier said than done. Concerns for whistleblowers include impact on future career prospects, stress and reaction of colleagues.
Employees can be left with the dilemma - should they speak up or remain silent? What protection is actually available if they do decide to speak up and who should they report their concern to?
Surprisingly, with the high stakes involved, the protection available to whistleblowers following an allegation or disclosure of wrongdoing can be hit and miss. In the UK the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 1998, provides protection to whistleblowers however this is currently viewed by many as a piece of legislation that actually offers inadequate protection to whistleblowers.
Supporting the view that whistleblowing is becoming more of an issue in the UK is analysis by the whistleblowing charity, Public Concern at Work (PCAW) ‘Whistleblowing - Time for Change’ which revealed that calls to the PCAW whistleblowing advice line have increased by 25 percent since 2011. Sixty-nine percent of callers had in the first instance, raised the matter internally.
In terms of resolutions, the data also noted that four out of five whistleblowers who reported wrongdoing in their workplace reported a negative final outcome for them, with 29 percent feeling victimised, 28 percent being dismissed, 2 percent were bullied and 24 percent forced to resign.
By comparison, in the US the protection provided for employees to blow-the-whistle is much stronger with Government bodies even offering a reward to whistleblowers who help their organisation take action. Additionally, in the US many companies choose a third party provider to offer a whistleblowing hotline to their employees providing further encouragement to speak up.
Whilst offering rewards to employees is not necessarily the right solution to encourage employees to speak up, offering an additional method for employees to report wrongdoing may be. In the US, rewards were implemented as an incentive to encourage the reporting of wrongdoing mainly because the lack of employment rights leaving employees feeling little loyalty to their employer. By contrast the UK’s approach to employment rights is more forward thinking, highlighting that employers should look at alternative ways to ensure they provide employees feel confident to speak up.
The implementation of an independent and external whistleblowing hotline provider should be seen by employers as a means to ensure transparency within their organisation. By complementing the internal process of reporting wrongdoing with an additional enhanced, confidential reporting solution provided by a third party demonstrates the trust and respect that employers hold for their employees and could be the difference to ensuring employees have the courage to speak up.
If you would like further information about implementation of an independent external whistleblowing service please follow this link or alternatively please contact Sean McAuley, the SeeHearSpeakUp Senior Fraud Service Manager on 01224 049449.