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Companies ill-prepared for and discouraging of whistleblowers, says report

The right to blow the whistle on particular types of wrongdoing in an organisation is protected by law. But without a culture in the workplace of supporting those who might do it, it seems that the law on its own is not enough.

This is in light of recent international research from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer which found that more than half of organisations surveyed didn't have a whistleblowing policy or failed to publicise it if they did.

Almost three-quarters of HR professionals - who might be expected to know and understand the law on 'public interest disclosures' as well as any of their colleagues - believed that their senior managers would either treat them less favourably or find ways to give them the sack if they blew the whistle.

Nearly a quarter of them said that their organisation 'actively discouraged' staff to raise issues of wrongdoing.

'Ill-prepared' for whistleblowers

Caroline Stroud, of Freshfields, said that most companies were 'ill-prepared to deal with concerns raised by their employees'.

'Given the high-level nature of whistleblowers' issues such as financial mismanagement, corruption or criminal activities, and the related major reputational risks, adequate whistleblowing procedures are clearly a board-level issue,' she said.

'Boards need to create a culture in which employees are not only protected but genuinely encouraged to make disclosures to their superiors.'

Acas publications and services

Acas has information on Whistle-blowing - Public Interest Disclosure and Raising a grievance at work, and its experts can visit your workplace to help you develop effective grievance procedures, so that you can better manage problems as they arise. See Disputes and mediation: how Acas can help.

Practical training is also available on managing Discipline and grievance, avoiding Bullying and harassment, conducting fair Investigations, and improving Dispute resolution.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

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