In 2013, Public Concern at Work (PCaW) launched an independent commission to review the effectiveness of whistleblowing arrangements in UK organisations, and to provide recommendations. The result, Report on the effectiveness of existing arrangements for workplace whistleblowing in the UK (PDF 5.4MB), included responses from several affected parties including employers, lawyers, and whistleblowers themselves.
The report makes 25 recommendations which cover concerns raised by the responses to the consultation document, and further research conducted as part of this review. The key recommendations are:
- A code of practice on whistleblowing arrangements which should be taken into account by courts and tribunals whenever the need arises.
- Regulators to require or encourage organisatis to adopt the code of practice, and establish effective whistleblowing systems. Where organisations do not have effective systems, the commission recommends that the licence or registration of such companies be reviewed.
- Regulators to have a clear procedure for whistleblowers with a feedback system where possible, and to include whistleblowing in their annual reporting.
- Provisions against blacklisting of whistleblowers and amendments to the anti-gagging provision in the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) to make it clearer.
- Specialist training for tribunal members hearing whistle blowing cases.
- A broader definition of worker to include: job applicants, student nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals and social workers, General Practitioners in the health service, volunteers and interns, non - executive directors, public appointments, partners (including LLP partners), priests and ministers of religion, foster carers and all categories of workers listed under the Equality Act 2010.
- Clarifying and improving the legal protection for whistleblowers contained in PIDA.
A number of cases, both in the UK and overseas, have highlighted failures of whistleblowing systems in organisations.
Effective whistle blowing arrangements are a key element of good governance. All organisations face the risk that something may go wrong and an organisation's best defence is the individuals working in, or with the organisation.
Effective whistleblowing arrangements are a key part of the first line of defence. Organisations that encourage whistleblowing and implement effective whistleblowing arrangements are better placed to prevent misconduct, detect any issues early and demonstrate effective risk management.