Today’s businesses need to be keenly aware of whistleblowers and the protections required to safeguard them. Regardless of your industry, there could be instances worth reporting, and protecting those who call attention to company misdoings is critical to your business success. Here’s what you should be considering with regard to whistleblowing and taking the necessary steps to ensure their ethical protection.
What Is Whistleblower Protection?
No employer can enact adverse actions against staff members of any employment type for engaging in whistleblowing rights and activities. This means employees can’t be fired, laid off, demoted, denied overtime, or promoted. OSHA’s whistleblower laws aim to create a protected space for individuals to call out unsafe practices when they’re witnessed. But reports can involve all kinds of company violations, including fraud, abuse, waste, public dangers, health risks, corruption, or general safety. And in general, there are two types of whistleblowing reports. There can be internal whistleblowing, citing concerns within an organization, and external whistleblowing, which allows individuals to report violations from outside the company.
What Role Should Whistleblowing Play in Your Company?
If you develop an ethics policy that supports anyone’s ability to report wrongdoing, it will benefit your company in a variety of ways. A culture of safe reporting means you’ll always encourage the identification of risks, so you can address them before they become catastrophic. Employee misconduct alone could be costing your company thousands. And it’s more expensive to fix these violations later than it will be to address them early on because of whistleblowing reports.
The next step in building a whistleblowing culture means communicating protections, so anyone feels safe in raising their hands or making their voices heard. Federal law prohibits retaliation, but it may not be enough to know that. Set up a whistleblowing program, and then remind your staff that they will be protected from retaliation, regardless of what activities they report.
What Makes a Whistleblowing Policy Effective?
There should be three core pillars of your whistleblowing policy. These include the “why,” the “what,” and the “where” of any reportable activity. And your company policy should spell out in transparent and easy-to-understand detail what constitutes a reportable offense. You can then outline what steps someone can take to officially submit a report or raise awareness of any impropriety. Ethics hotlines are great resources for whistleblowing policies, in part because they’re anonymous, providing an added layer of trust and security for those who step forward.
So, Why Should Your Company Have a Whistleblowing Policy?
Regardless of your business model, a strong whistleblowing policy presents an opportunity for internal resolution. Deputize your employees and allow them to be where you cannot be, quickly and securely able to report concerns. They’ll be doing your bottom line a favor, providing the chance for you to expedite solutions and remedies before small violations turn into hefty fines.
If you’re looking to officially create or improve your whistleblowing policy, let Ethical Advocate help. An ethics hotline, along with our other robust services for compliance and reporting, can be just what your business needs to create a healthy, supportive, and protected whistleblower culture.