Whistleblowing is the process where an employee or any other individual in an organization reports an instance of wrongdoing or criminality. In the past, this was done through offline means such as a phone line, trust box, or in person, whereas these days, whistleblowing reports are often submitted through a piece of whistleblowing software, such as FaceUp.
Whistleblowing platforms have many other uses for businesses, such as case management, surveys, questionnaires, employee feedback and so on.
In the EU, whistleblowing protection is relatively universal thanks to the EU Whistleblowing Directive (2019), whilst whistleblowing protection in the USA is patchier and is dependent on the sector in which you work and what it is you wish to report.
The Whistleblower Protection Act (1989) is the broadest piece of legislation introduced in the US, but it does not provide protection for all whistleblowers, far from it. The Whistleblower Protection Act only protects federal employees, although private sector workers may be protected under topic-specific federal laws, like the Occupational Safety and Health Act, but only a small section of unlawful activity is covered by such laws.
Private sector workers do not enjoy any kind of whistleblowing protection if they are reporting violations of federal laws with no whistleblower protection or state law. However, there may be some protection for them under local laws.
Moreover, in the US, union officials are exempted from whistleblower laws.
Whislteblowers.org lists the four following steps as best practice for whistleblowing law in the US, which companies could introduce independently if they so wish. They are:
Even though the legal provision for whistleblowing is less universal in the USA than in other parts of the world, implementing a whistleblowing system is still hugely advantageous for private companies.
Some of the benefits for US companies to implement a whistleblowing platform include:
Where whistleblower protections do exist, a protected disclosure is anything that a whistleblower reports that they reasonably believe is evidence of a violation of any law, regulation, or rule, or represents gross mismanagement or waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
Choosing a suitable whistleblowing platform for your organization is not always an easy task. As a general rule of thumb, good platforms include the following key features (not an exhaustive list):
Whistleblowing - just a bureaucracy or an opportunity for your company?
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