Two thirds of businesses advocate public reporting of whistleblowing reports

A survey and report from Howard Kennedy

Two thirds (67%) of respondents to a survey conducted by Howard Kennedy believe that businesses should be obliged to publicly report on the number of whistleblowing reports they receive from workers.

This is one of the headline findings from a new report from Howard Kennedy. The report offers timely insight and practical guidance on the importance of having appropriate channels in place for workers to raise concerns, as recent global press reports of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment in a variety of workplaces illustrates.

The report – Whistleblowing in the Workplace: Opportunity and Risk – is based on a survey of HR directors across a number of UK industry sectors and seeks to better understand and explore how businesses manage whistleblowing and obtain views on current whistleblowing law.

Lydia Christie, senior associate at Howard Kennedy, said “Our report found that 96% of businesses surveyed have a formal whistleblowing policy, with those policies forming the heart of their whistleblowing risk management procedures. It also found that whistleblowing is recognised at board level as a key strategic risk by 81% of those surveyed. That is encouraging particularly as we continue to see media reports of corporate scandals disclosed by whistleblowers.

“It is also encouraging to see that almost all (96%) respondents confirmed they are aware that whistleblowers have enhanced employment law rights and protection. This enhanced protection includes the right to claim uncapped compensation for unfair dismissal if they believe they have been dismissed because they have raised a whistleblowing concern.”

Highlights from Howard Kennedy’s Whistleblowing in the workplace: opportunity and risk:

  • 94% of businesses say they encourage staff to speak out
  • 46% of businesses had received between one and five whistleblowing reports in the previous three years; 10% had received between six and 10 reports in that period
  • Where reports were received by businesses:
    • 27% resulted in an employee being dismissed (either the whistleblower or others)
    • 46% of businesses considered they achieved a satisfactory resolution for the whistleblower
    • 5% resulted in an employment tribunal claim
  • Only 19% of businesses believe current whistleblowing legislation is effective.

Lydia adds: “Many of our respondents told us that the current regime is, however, frustrating and open to abuse, with whistleblowing claims made by employees already facing disciplinary action, adding considerable cost and time. Yet most believe that whistleblower protection is important and that whistleblowers deserve the support the law gives them.

“Businesses should encourage staff to voice their concerns and take a proactive risk management approach in this area, both in terms of the potential wrongdoing reported and the way the business responds to those who raise concerns.”

Download the full whistleblowing report here: