Ethical whistleblowing


What is whistleblowing?

The term Whistleblowing is used when an employee in an organization passes on information concerning wrongdoing. This will usually be something being committed by an organization to individuals or entities itself. Whistleblowing is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent corruption and other malpractice.

Who is a whistleblower?


“A whistleblower is a person who exposes secretive information or activity within a private or public organization that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct.”

(according to Wikipedia)

Whistleblowers’ discloses have to be reasonable in two ways. The first one is they should act in the public interest. That means in particular that personal grievances and complaints are not usually covered by whistleblowing law.

The second one is whistleblowers must believe that the disclosure tends to show past, present, or likely future wrongdoing. The wrongdoing can be classified in many ways.

Criminal offenses

failure to comply with an obligation set out in the law

miscarriages of justice

endangering of someone’s health and safety

damage to the environment

covering up wrongdoing in the above categories

Elements of ethical whistleblowing

There are four elements of ethical whistleblowing.

  • The whistleblower
  • The whistleblowing act or complaint
  • the party to whom the complaint is made
  • the organization against which the complaint is lodged

In an organization, there should be an environment or a culture where employees feel confident and secure about reporting wrongdoing. There are five steps to building positive thinking of employees to step forward to act against breaches of the law.

  1. Understand the whistleblowing law.

The law encourages whistleblowers to make the disclosure to employers in the first instance. To be counted as whistleblowing, information must be disclosed; it is not sufficient to gather information or threaten to make a disclosure. The employee must reasonably believe that the wrongdoing is related to one of the six categories mentioned above.

2. Introduce a whistleblowing policy and adopt appropriate procedures

Employers should consider what support they should offer those coming forward, such as counseling or appointing someone in HR to help them. Workers should be informed who they should make disclosures to and be reminded of acceptable behavior once a disclosure is made.

3. Reassure the workforce that whistleblowers will be protected

Remind workers that the law protects them from being subjected to a detriment as a result of whistleblowing. Compensation for detriment can be awarded to employees and workers, together with injury to feelings awards.

4. Respond to allegations of wrongdoing

Give workers who want to make disclosures the right to be accompanied at meetings and suggest that the details of the disclosure are written down, to avoid any misunderstandings.

5. Be prepared for the possibility of a case going to the employment tribunal

Allegations of whistleblowing are more likely to attract adverse publicity than most other kinds of claims. If the whistleblower is badly managed, this publicity will become negative, damaging any chances of future whistleblowers coming forward.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store