Do you need a whistleblowing policy?11/05/2022
Long-time DJ and broadcaster Tim Westwood is currently at the centre of a sexual misconduct scandal, after seven women came forward with claims that he had abused his power in the industry.
However the former Radio 1 presenter isn’t the only one coming under fire, with his past employer the BBC facing scrutiny over its whistleblowing and safeguarding policies as a result.
Five of the seven alleged incidents took place during his time working for the national broadcaster but no formal complaints were ever lodged, causing many to question if the media giant could have done more to prevent wrongdoing.
While the Tim Westwood accusations may be happening on national scale with huge media interest, the conversations about whistleblowing protections are ones which affect businesses and industries across the board.
First, let’s look at the basics:
What is whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing refers to the disclosure of information concerning malpractice within the workplace.
This can range from criminal offences, a danger to health and safety, damage to the environment or any attempt to deliberately conceal any of the aforementioned issues.
What does the law say?
The Employment Rights Act 1996 protects employees and workers (“employees”) who are disclosing information that they reasonably believe is in the public interest to share and which concerns specific wrongdoing or failures.
If a qualifying disclosure has been made the employee will be protected from suffering a detriment. This means that whistleblowers are protected from dismissal, discrimination and victimisation as a result of making their disclosure.
While the law offers formal protection to employees, there is currently no law in place which requires employers to have a whistleblowing policy.
Despite this, there are many benefits to having one in place.
Having clear, coherent policies encourages an open and supportive workplace culture which, in turn, contributes to employees feeling safe and comfortable enough to raise potential concerns before it is too late.
In addition, enforcing procedures for responding to disclosures of information in a timely fashion and keeping whistleblowers informed encourages workers to make disclosures internally, with the reassurance that their admissions will be taken seriously.
Not only is this likely to have a positive influence on staff morale but it is also often in a business’ favour too.
This allows employers a better chance to control risks, the chance to investigate and the opportunity to resolve any wrongdoing quickly – so they can get back to business as usual.
Our expert employment team are on hand to help advise on whistleblowing policies and disclosures in the workplace.