Employment Law: Whistleblowing Policies | February 2024

Employment Law: Whistleblowing Policies | February 2024

You may have seen articles this month in the Guardian and HR Magazine, claiming staff at fashion retailer, Missy Empire, were told the company did not have a HR function and there was nowhere to channel complaints that criticised the company’s workplace culture. These allegations centred around a culture of bullying and harassment.

This highlights the key role that HR play in fostering an open and respectful workplace by enforcing policies and providing support to employees. This also highlights the importance of whistleblowing policies and reporting channels to prevent malpractice.

The content of a whistleblowing policy may be determined by the size and diversity of the organisation, however, it is recommended that, as a minimum, you would expect to see information about how employees can raise concerns e.g., via a confidential email or a dedicated person to contact to arrange a face to face. Having more than one option to report concerns is important to meet the diverse preferences of the workforce.

A larger organisation may choose to look at independent third-party options which will guarantee anonymity for the whistleblower.

Did you know that ‘HR-related concerns, like unfair treatment, racism and harassment, made up the majority (55%) of whistleblowing complaints in 2022’, according to a report by Safecall (based on anonymised data from 900+ employers across 136 countries).

This highlights further the importance of ensuring you have a robust policy, practice and procedure, which ensures that whistleblowing complaints are handled correctly. It is recommended that it should also take into consideration confidentiality and data protection and addresses the alignment with other policies and practices e.g., disciplinary.

NB: This information is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law. However, if you have any HR issues on this or any other HR matters and would like to talk them through with our team, please contact us.

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