Key whistleblowing terms you need to know

  • What is whistleblowing?

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  • Who is a whistleblower?

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  • What is a protected disclosure?

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  • What is retaliation against whistleblowing?

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  • What is mobbing in the workplace?

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  • What is a whistleblowing policy?

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  • What constitutes workplace misconduct?

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  • What does whistleblower protection mean?

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  • Why is whistleblowing important?

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  • What are whistleblowing laws?

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  • What are whistleblowing synonyms?

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  • Are whistleblowers protected?

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  • What is a whistleblowing act?

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  • What is whistleblowing software?

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  • What does whistleblowing mean?

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  • What is a whistleblowing system?

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  • What is whistleblowing?

    Whistleblowing is the act of reporting unfair, unethical or illegal behavior occurring in an organization. Whistleblowing can happen internally (e.g. a person reporting that a coworker is stealing to management.) Or it can be external (an employee reporting acts of bribery in their organization to law enforcement).

  • Who is a whistleblower?

    A whistleblower (also whistle blower or whistle-blower) is a person who reports worrying or illegal activity within an organization. The whistleblower can report to people within the organization, authority figures in the larger community such as law enforcement or the public via news outlets or social media.

  • What is a protected disclosure?

    A protected disclosure is any reasonable report made by a worker of suspected wrongdoing. The person is protected by law from punishment or retaliation for making the report. For example, an employee reports that their manager is embezzling company funds. The employee is protected from retaliation or punishment from the company.

  • What is retaliation against whistleblowing?

    Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for reporting wrongdoing or suspected wrongdoing (A.K.A. whistleblowing). This can take multiple forms from firing the employee, to giving them less desirable working conditions or reducing their pay. 

  • What is mobbing in the workplace?

    Mobbing is when a group of people bully, harass or abuse an individual. Mobbing can happen at any level of an organization and occurs for a variety of reasons. For example, an employee and a manager argue. The manager then starts to harass the employee online and recruits other people in the office to do the same.

  • What is a whistleblowing policy?

    A whistleblowing policy is an internal document that explains the procedures for reporting worrying behavior in an organization. For example, an employee suspects that a coworker is moving company funds into a private account. The Whistleblowing policy outlines how the employee should report this suspicion and the legal protection the employee is entitled to. Finally the policy will outline the company's response both to the whistleblower and the suspected criminal behavior.

  • What constitutes workplace misconduct?

    The definition of misconduct can vary greatly based on the type of work environment. Broadly speaking, workplace misconduct is any behavior by an employee that is criminal, abusive, negligent or harmful to coworkers or the workplace. 

  • What does whistleblower protection mean?

    Almost every nation has whistleblower protection laws in place to shield whistleblowers if they come forward. It is because when a person (the whistleblower) decides to report misconduct or wrongdoing, they put themselves at risk of dismissal, reassignment, reduced wages or other forms of retaliation. 

  • Why is whistleblowing important?

    Whistleblowing is important for companies because it can help in several ways, such as:

    • Exposing and stopping wrongdoing or fraud that may damage the company’s image, results, or legal standing.
    • Preserving public funds and serving public interest when the company has government contracts or receives grants.
    • Incentivizing whistleblowers who offer useful information and assistance to authorities or regulators.

    Whistleblowing can also create a positive environment of honesty, responsibility, and quality within the company, which can enhance employee satisfaction, customer loyalty, and stakeholder relations.

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  • What are whistleblowing laws?

    Whistleblowing laws vary across countries in terms of their scope and strength. Some whistleblowing laws offer comprehensive and robust protection and incentives for whistleblowers.
     

    USA have whistleblowing laws based on the employment sector of the whistleblower. Federal whistleblowing laws safeguard workers who disclose illegal or unethical activities within their private employers or contractors. These laws are often embedded in statutes that regulate industry standards such as employee safety, consumer product and food safety, environmental protection, fraud and financial issues, health insurance or transportation services. These laws typically specify what qualifies as a protected disclosure, forbid retaliation against whistleblowers and provide a mechanism of relief for employees who face reprisal.

    In the European Union (EU), a whistleblowing directive to protect whistleblowers was enacted in 2019 and must be implemented into national law by all member states by December 2021. The directive aims to establish common minimum standards for the protection of whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law in various areas such as public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product safety, data protection, etc. The directive also mandates member states to set up secure reporting channels for whistleblowers within organizations and public authorities.


    Australia has a law to protect whistleblowers who report misconduct in the corporate sector. This law covers employees, officers, contractors, suppliers, and volunteers of corporations regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). The law also provides compensation and immunity for whistleblowers who suffer detriment as a result of their disclosure.

    In South Africa is a whistleblowing law that protects whistleblowers who disclose any unlawful or improper conduct by any person or organization. This law covers both public and private sector employees, as well as independent contractors, consultants, agents, and temporary workers. The law also prohibits any form of retaliation against whistleblowers and allows them to seek remedies in court.

  • What are whistleblowing synonyms?

    Whistleblowing synonyms can be:

    • Informing: Providing information to someone who has the authority or responsibility to act on it, especially about wrongdoing or illegal activity within an organization.
       
    • Reporting: Making a formal or official statement about something that has happened or is happening, especially about misconduct or corruption within an organization.
       
    • Disclosing: Making something known or public that was previously hidden or secret, especially about malpractice or fraud within an organization.
       
    • Revealing: Showing or uncovering something that was not known before or was concealed, especially about abuse of power or danger to public health or safety within an organization.
       
    • Alerting: Warning someone of a danger, problem, or situation that requires attention or action, especially about violations of law, rule, regulation, or ethics within an organization.
  • Are whistleblowers protected?

    Whistleblowers should be protected to act responsibly and ethically when they witness something illegal or misconduct. Whistleblower protection laws typically include provisions such as:
     

    • Confidentiality: Whistleblowers’ identities should be kept secret unless they consent or disclosure is required by law.
       
    • Reporting channels: Whistleblowers should have access to internal and external mechanisms for reporting wrongdoing, such as hotlines, ombudsmen or regulators.
       
    • Remedies: Whistleblowers should be entitled to compensation and remedies for any harm suffered as a result of their disclosure, such as reinstatement, damages or legal fees.
       
    • Prohibition of retaliation: Whistleblowers should be protected from any adverse action taken against them because of their disclosure, such as dismissal, demotion, harassment or discrimination
  • What is a whistleblowing act?

    A whistleblowing act is an act of revealing information about wrongdoing, misconduct, unethical activity or illegal activity within an organization, usually without authorization. 

    A whistleblowing act can also refer to a law that safeguards whistleblowers who report such information from retaliation or reprisal by their employers or other parties.

  • What is whistleblowing software?

    Whistleblowing software allows employees to report illegal behavior or misconduct in the workplace. Whistleblowing software should be fully secure, trustworthy and easy to use for whistleblowers. Whistleblowing software should provide different channels for whistleblowing, such as online access via the web, mobile apps and a hotline. 

    FaceUp Whistleblowing software meets all the requirements of a reporting channel and is easy to use with a number of useful features.

  • What does whistleblowing mean?

    Whistleblowing means reporting misconduct, unethical or illegal behaviour within an organisation. The origin of the word whistleblowing is in the 1960s and 1970s, it was associated with the use of a whistle to alert the public to problems such as the commission of a crime or a rule violation during a sports game. In the 19th century, the phrase whistle blower was tied to law enforcement officers as they used the whistle to alert the public or colleagues of police officers.

  • What is a whistleblowing system?

    The whistleblowing system is designed to receive and manage whistleblowing reports from company employees reporting crimes and serious violations without revealing their identity or exposing themselves to retaliation.
     

    Whistleblowing system helps companies with:

    • Minimizing financial losses and saving costs - whistleblowing is the cheapest and most effective way to detect theft, corruption and fraud
    • Protecting company reputation and trust - early detection of all dishonesty, risks and illegal behavior before it becomes public 
    • Building a better and more transparent company culture that helps reduce employee turnover and retention
    • Preventing problems from escalating and causing significant damage to property or health through early resolution of whistleblowing
    • Making it easier to comply with the law on whistleblower protection and the risks associated with it
       

    To implement a whistleblowing system, you should:

    • Understand the legal requirements in your country
    • Set up reporting channels, such as a web platform, phone line or mobile app.
    • Identify an impartial person and investigator to review and investigate whistleblower reports.
    • Establish a process to respond to whistleblower reports and to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
    • Inform and train employees about the whistleblowing system and policies

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