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Effective Whistleblowing Policy

Effective whistleblowing policy - intelligence & risk solutions

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Any organisation looking to create a transparent corporate culture needs to implement an effective whistleblowing policy, and there are many lessons they can learn from the case of Kathryn Magson.

In order for businesses to managewrongdoing effectively, protecting whistleblowers should be their number one priority. Implementing robust whistleblowing policies, that are clear and easy to understand, and followed by everyone from the ground up, is one way of ensuring this.

What’s in an effective whistleblowing policy?

An effective whistleblowing policy should explain what whistleblowing is, defining exactly what is and isn’t whistleblowing. 

It should provide guidance on whether potential concerns raised are protected under UK whistleblowing legislation – for example, personal grievances are not covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998), as they are not in the ‘public interest’.

For those wishing to raise concerns, an effective policy must provide clear instruction on the processes that need to be followed when reporting misconduct. If possible, anonymous, digital channels should be made available, so that all employees can voice their concerns freely and easily, without fear of retaliation.

Whistleblowers should be able to report concerns in a verbal or written manner, and support should be in place for reports to be made in multiple languages.

Beyond the support for whistleblowers themselves, the policy needs to provide guidance to those working in upper management and HR roles on how to handle potential concerns raised.

What happens when whistleblowing policies aren’t followed?

Whistleblowing policies are in place to protect whistleblowers. When policies aren’t followed, or even implemented in the first place, it can lead to situations where people are bullied out of their workplaces for reporting their concerns.

Effective whistleblowing policy examples - intelligence & risk solutions

Recently, Kathryn Magson, the chief executive of the Isle of Man’s Department of Health was deemed to have repeatedly side-lined and humiliated Dr Rosalind Ranson, a medical director, after Dr Ranson had raised concerns about the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic on the island.

Dr Ranson won a £3.2million payout when an employment tribunal ruled she was treated in a “demeaning” and “unjustifiable” way by Kathryn Magson, who denied the bullying allegations. The BBC later found that Magson is still working for the NHS, as an advisor.

This case displayed the pain that can be caused to individuals when whistleblowing policies aren’t supported by those working at the highest levels within an organisation, showing the need for effective policies to contain whistleblower protection solutions.

How can whistleblowing policies provide whistleblower protection solutions?

As well as making sure policies are followed and supported by those working at every level of a company, a key whistleblower protection solution is to create anonymous and digital channels for whistleblowers to report misconduct on.

Digital whistleblowing channels provide protection against retaliation, empowering individuals to report misconduct securely and safely. They also allow whistleblowers to upload any supporting documentation they have, alongside their concerns.

Digital whistleblowing channels retain a line of communication between those reporting wrongdoing, and those in HR roles handling complaints, ensuring any issues can be handled smoothly, with speed.

If an organisation wants to show accountability, it’s vital that whistleblower protections are put in place, to make sure that whistleblowers aren’t fearful of disclosing information.

Overall, an effective whistleblowing policy needs to be accessible, impartial, and secure. Organisations and individuals need to be held responsible for wrongdoing and misconduct in the workplace. Implementing robust whistleblowing policies ensures that concerns can be raised and handled in a timely manner, whilst protecting those who raise issues.