When the whistle blows

UK whistleblowing legislation covers the protection offered to employees who report wrongdoing within the workplace. Here is a quick summary along with some tips on how to ensure that you comply with current legislation in this important area.

"I need to speak to you about Kevin"

You run your business on a professional basis but what should you do if one of your employees makes you aware of the alleged wrongful conduct of another party? This could be your "star" manager or one of your best customers! 

Whilst whistleblowing legislation emerged with high profile stories in the Banking and Care sectors,  every employer has a legal responsibility to ensure that employees can make a “protected disclosure” without fear of reprisal.

Legal grounding

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) covers nearly all workers and employees in Great Britain. Designed to ensure that employees could raise concerns of serious wrongdoing whilst being protected from being treated badly or being dismissed, the Act was bolstered and  broadened  in 2013 with other supporting legislation.

Which tunes can be whistled?

Generally any wrongdoing relating to legal and ethical standards that comes to an individuals attention through their work. Typically the concerns will relate to a danger or illegality or risk to another party. It's not designed for handling relationship or personal problems within the workplace which should be managed via your grievance procedure if significant.

From 25th June 2013 the Government has introduced a public interest test and from this date, only concerns which meet this test will give the whistleblower legal protection. Further details can be found at www.gov.uk/whistleblowing 

Policy protection

It may be an unlikely occurrence in your business but having a simple policy in place will ensure that you deal with whistleblowing in the right way. It goes hand in hand with running an open and effective business to make all of your staff aware that you have a policy in place and how they should use it.

What to include

A simple,step by step guide of what your employees should do if they come across malpractice in the workplace. It's helpful to include a few examples of the type of issues that might be included and a statement that they are unacceptable.

Most issues can be resolved informally by telling someone with the authority to do something about it, so it's important that people know who to speak to in the first instance. Generally this will be the supervisor or manager but this can be a problem if they are the source of the concern, which is sometimes the case. Here you should try to identify an independent resource that you can rely upon to investigate the matter which may well be yourself as Business owner or Director.

You need to make it clear within the policy that employees will not be penalised and make sure that this happens in practice. Finally its really important to state that the issue will be managed in confidence. 

Making it happen

So the policy will ensure that people know how to raise a concern but you also need to make sure that if raised, concerns are dealt with effectively. Encouraging an open culture will ensure that the right kind of things get raised. A thorough investigation by an "independent" person who ensures that they keep the whistleblower updated and informed of outcomes is also key.

If you have concerns about how to handle this type of issue in your business contact Mander HR on 0771 5326568 for specific advice.