Whistleblowing policy in the UK

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In a busy workplace with many employees, it is easy for issues that may trouble individuals or teams not to be brought to the attention of the appropriate channels. Because of the employees’ fear of repercussion.

When this happens, employee’s wellbeing can become affected as it can leave them feeling uncomfortable in the workplace, and they may need support to feel able to speak out about this.

This is especially true if there is not a service in place for reporting any inappropriate behaviour. By incorporating a whistleblowing support policy within the workplace, staff will feel confident to report serious issues such as criminal activity, misconduct, or actions that endanger the health or safety of employees or the public.

Without such a policy in place, it can leave important issues lingering and unresolved. Read on to find out more about how a whistleblowing policy can improve the workplace:

What is whistleblowing?

If an employee report wrongdoing that they believe is in the public interest, we know it as whistleblowing. Whistleblowing examples can include criminal activity, such as:

  • Theft
  • Unethical or unjust behaviour in the workplace
  • Racist, sexist or homophobic behaviour.

They can report these issues to an authorised person or organisation either within, or outside of the workplace, depending on the procedure in place.

This is where policy comes in, it details everything an employee would need to know in the event of whistleblowing.

What is the policy of whistleblowing?

An employee whistleblower policy is there to show how employees can blow the whistle and detail how they will find out the outcome.

The policy will explain its procedures for making a disclosure and whether the whistleblower can expect to receive any feedback.

It’s no good having a policy in place if no one knows about it. Actively promoting a policy shows the organisation is genuinely open to hearing concerns from its staff.

You should provide training to all staff on the key arrangements of the policy. You should provide additional training to those with whistleblowing responsibilities, such as managers or designated contacts, so they can provide guidance confidently to workers.

What is the purpose of a whistleblower policy?

Although the law does not require employers to have a corporate whistleblowing policy in place, the existence of a whistleblowing policy shows an employer’s commitment to listening to the concerns of workers.

We design the Policy to ensure employees can raise concerns about wrongdoing or malpractice within the organisation without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination, disadvantage or dismissal.

We also intended it to encourage and enable employees to raise serious concerns within the organisation rather than ignoring a problem or 'blowing the whistle' outside

By having clear policies and procedures for dealing with whistleblowing, an organisation shows that it welcomes information being brought to the attention of management.  

Any whistleblowing policies or procedures should be clear, simple, and easily understood.

Here are some tips about what a policy should include:

  • Who needs to follow the whistleblowing policy
  • When was the whistleblowing policy was introduced
  • An explanation of what whistleblowing is, particularly in relation to the organisation
  • A clear explanation of the organisation’s procedures for handling whistleblowing, which can be communicated through training
  • A commitment to training workers at all levels of the organisation in relation to whistleblowing law and the organisation’s policy
  • A commitment to treat all disclosures consistently and fairly
  • A commitment to take all reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality of the
  • whistleblower where it is requested (unless required by law to break that
  • confidentiality)
  • Clarification that any so-called ‘gagging clauses’ in settlement agreements do not prevent workers from making disclosures in the public interest
  • An idea about what feedback a whistleblower might receive
  • An explanation that anonymous whistleblowers will not ordinarily be able to receive feedback and that any action taken to look into a disclosure could be limited – anonymous whistleblowers may seek feedback through a telephone appointment or by using an anonymised email address
  • A commitment to emphasise in a whistleblowing policy that victimisation of a whistleblower is not acceptable. Any instances of victimisation will be taken seriously and managed appropriately
  • An idea of the time frame for handling any disclosures raised
  • An idea of the time frame for handling any disclosures raised
  • Clarification that the whistleblower does not need to provide evidence for the employer to look into the concerns raised
  • Signpost to information and advice to those thinking of blowing the whistle, for example the guidance from the Government, Acas, Public Concern at Work or Trade Unions
  • Information about blowing the whistle to the relevant prescribed person(s)

Benefits of a whistleblowing policy at work

Provides confidentiality

Whistleblowing support provides a confidential service that allows employees to draw attention to any issues that they feel are inappropriate for the workplace.  

Many employees are concerned that by reporting something they feel is inappropriate, this could lead to a negative impact on the workforce atmosphere or even cause them to lose their job.

But staff should feel confident that with a whistleblowing policy in place, those who do come forward will remain anonymous, so they do not need to be worried about sharing the information.

The service also provides independent, impartial advice on the situation which helps staff feel comfortable enough to speak up. 

Everyone can access support

Making a whistleblowing policy explicit to all employees means everybody has access to support when they need it. This gives staff the confidence to come forward should they witness any inappropriate behaviour.

Here at Health Assured, we help workplaces around the country implement their very own whistleblowing policy. We have trained counsellors who can offer 24/7 telephone support and are qualified to answer any concerns that employees may have.

Talking to a third party is beneficial if employees are worried about reporting an incident to someone who is a manager or colleague.

Useful reports of misconduct

Having a clearly defined whistleblowing blowing policy that is well communicated to staff helps prevent any confusion about how it should be used and what the benefits are.

This will help to prevent the service from being used for personal grievances rather than wrongdoings within the company and increase the number of valid reports for investigating. 

Expectations of the service

By implementing a policy of this kind and outlining its benefits, staff will know how it works, and won’t have unrealistic expectations about how long it takes for issues to be resolved or actions to be met.

Setting expectations will stop workers from becoming disgruntled and will limit the risk of people using the policy dishonestly to get things resolved quicker. When staff feel pressured in a workplace, it can affect their mental wellbeing, so by having a whistleblowing support policy in place, this gives them the opportunity to clear their mind of worries at work.

Help with whistleblowing from Health Assured

A whistleblowing policy will show that employees’ views and opinions are valued in the workplace.  

Create a healthy work environment and engage your team members by setting an example. One way you can do this is by having an Employee Assistance Programme, which improves wellbeing. Our EAP also comes with a wellbeing app, which employees can use whenever to access wellbeing resources.

If you need a whistleblowing policy in your workplace, contact Health Assured today - we can help you get started. 

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Whistleblowing policy in the UK

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