What is whistleblowing in the workplace?

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Health Assured team

29 May 2018

What is Whistleblowing? The term whistleblowing is used when an employee discloses information concerning wrongdoing. To be fully covered by Whistleblowing Law, the employee who “blows the whistle” must believe that they are acting in the public interest and that the disclosure includes an act of wrongdoing.

What counts as whistleblowing?

A whistleblowing disclosure can only be considered one as long as it concerns the following:

  • Criminal offences
  • An individual’s health and safety is in danger
  • Damage towards the environment
  • Miscarriages of justice
  • If a company is breaking the law
  • If someone is covering up wrongdoing

What doesn’t count as whistleblowing? Unless the disclosure is in the public interest, the following are not covered by whistleblowing law:

  • Personal grievances
  • Bullying & harassment
  • Discrimination

Benefits of having a Whistleblowing Policy A whistleblowing policy can display an employer’s commitment to develop an honest and open work environment that employees truly value. By encouraging a whistleblowing culture in the workplace, the business in turn promotes transparent communication protecting its employees as well as its clients. Below are some of the benefits of providing a whistleblowing policy to employees:

  • Provides confidentiality – Often employees deter themselves from reporting wrongdoing as they are concerned of the repercussions, thus impacting negatively on their work performance. A whistleblowing service can offer complete confidentiality to the individual.
  • Workplace bullying – Detecting and eliminating bullying and harassment in the workplace can be an effective way to boost morale among employees, thus having a positive effect on productivity.
  • Fraud detection – By encouraging whistleblowing, employers are enhancing their ability to detect fraud from within their company. If employees are comfortable with reporting suspicious behaviour at work, then the chance of fraud will reduce.

How to Encourage Staff to Blow the Whistle? Withholding sensitive information can be a stressful and anxious experience for an employee, which in turn, can be detrimental to a business. Below are a few methods in which employers can encourage their staff to blow the whistle:

  • Make employees aware of the policy – The first step in a successful whistleblowing policy at the workplace is for the employer/manager to actively promote the service. An effective way to spread the word is by distributing any marketing materials such as posters and flyers around the office.
  • Make employees aware of the implications – Due to fear of the potential ramifications, many employees discourage themselves from whistleblowing. Employers should inform their staff that they are protected from being dismissed or reprimanded for whistleblowing by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
  • Take a clear stance – Employees can react positively to a senior figure taking a clear stance and promoting the organisations whistleblowing policy. In doing so, this removes the stigma attached to ‘telling on’ a colleague, thus creating a more considerate environment for employees to thrive in.

If you wish to discover more information on the benefits of offering a whistleblowing policy to your employees, please visit the Health Assured contact page here.

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