Risk and control
Whistleblowing is a term commonly used when someone who works in or for an organisation raises a concern about possible fraud, crime, danger or other serious risks that could threaten participants, stakeholders, the public or the organisation’s own reputation. It can act as an early warning system for unethical or illegal behaviour within the organisation.
The need for whistleblowing arises when internal channels are not able to uncover the potentially damaging activity because the individuals responsible can avoid detection and/or others with suspicions or knowledge of the conduct do not have sufficient trust in your organisation to tell it.
In the UK, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) protects ‘workers’ from being subjected to any detriment on the ground that they have made a protected disclosure. ‘Workers’ are defined more broadly than just the employees of your organisation, and arguably could include other participants, as PIDA covers individuals who have entered into works under any contract (whether express or implied) whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract.
A ‘worker’ under PIDA is protected by law if they report any of the following matters in relation to your organisation:
- a criminal offence (such as bribery or corruption);
- that someone’s health and safety is in danger;
- a miscarriage of justice;
- that the organisation is breaking the law (alleged discrimination, for example); or
- the ‘worker’ believes someone is covering up wrongdoing within the organisation.
The term ‘whistleblower’ often