The IET encourages all employers to take whistleblowing seriously, and to provide clear, transparent and robust procedures to enable their employees to raise concerns. Such policies should cover all engineers and technicians, regardless of whether or not they have registered status.
‘Whistleblowing’ is defined by the UK Whistleblowing Commission as ‘the raising of a concern, either within the workplace or externally, about a danger, risk, malpractice or wrongdoing which affects others’.
Using UK law as an example, a disclosure should be in the public interest and should show past, present or likely future wrongdoing falling into one or more of the following categories:
Put simply, it protects your business, your customers, your employees, your reputation and, ultimately, your bottom line. An effective whistleblowing policy can be the most productive early warning mechanism to identify issues that could cause significant loss. Not only can it provide early warning, it also:
A well known consumer brand lost 75-80 per cent of its value when news of a significant fraud broke in the media. One of the reasons cited by the employee who went to the media was the lack of adequate internal procedures to report his concerns.
Employees of UK organisations or who are based in the UK who do make a genuine whistleblowing disclosure (known as a “protected disclosure” under the relevant legislation) are protected from detrimental treatment from their employers as a result of their disclosure. It’s important to distinguish a whistleblowing claim from an employee grievance, for which the IET recommends employers have a separate, equally transparent and robust procedure.
The UK government has published useful guidance [PDF, 636.56KB], including the elements of an effective whistleblowing policy. Employers in other jurisdictions should take local advice, but note the IET’s overarching guidance that all employers should have procedures in place.