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Fear prevents workers from blowing the whistle to stop wrongdoing in the workplace

Published 16 September 2015

Apprehensive employees would rather turn a blind eye or remain tight-lipped instead of exposing serious wrongdoing in the workplace.

The fear of repercussions means workers believe it is better to keep quiet and not ‘blow the whistle’ on illegal or dangerous activity at their place of work, according to a survey.

A quarter of those who took part said they would remain silent out of loyalty to their employer - and more than a fifth believed it was not any of their business to speak out.

The research by solicitors Slater and Gordon revealed that nearly 50 per cent of the two thousand people who took part in the study would not utter a word if they were aware of an offence being committed at work. However, if provided with a guarantee of anonymity the number employees prepared to lift the lid on wrongdoing rose to 67 per cent.

The findings are a worry as whistle-blowers are protected by law if they report any of the following qualified disclosures:

  • A criminal offence.
  • Someone’s health and safety is in danger.
  • Risk or actual damage to the environment.
  • A miscarriage of justice.
  • The company is breaking the law.

Ensuring all staff are aware of and understand a whistleblowing policy can benefit an employer, as it will detail unacceptable conduct and allow the business to discover when things go wrong.

An effective policy will set out how to make a disclosure and the process that will be followed.

Employees who do not believe they can make a disclosure to their employers can make it to a prescribed person - such as a legal advisor in the course of obtaining legal advice or a government minister for workers in a government-appointed organisation -so that employment rights are protected

Workers who 'blow the whistle' should not be victimised or dismissed for doing so as they can claim for unfair dismissal.

Note

The following is the link to the Slater and Gordon press release in relation to the research.

http://www.slatergordon.co.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2015/09/a-third-of-workers-would-be-scared-to-expose-illegal-activity-at-work/

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