It’s important that your company has a solid process and procedure in place for whistleblower reports. This is a procedural document that everyone should have access to at any time and that everyone should have been encouraged to read. You may even have conducted specific training or information sessions in this context.
Why Is A Procedure So Important?
Without good processes and procedures in place in a working environment, there is nothing to fall back on. Not only should a good procedure guide action and behavior, but it also minimizes the chances of retaliatory legal action under certain circumstances if followed correctly.
If you’re at the stage where you’re implementing a reporting process for all staff, here’s some advice on how a whistleblowing procedure should be written, what it should contain, and how it will help:
- Define objectives
It’s important to outline the goal of the procedural document, define roles, and determine what will be tracked. What kinds of ethical breaches can be reported? How will a staff member know when to make a report? Guiding your employees on whether they should make a report or not is crucial to their understanding of the whistleblowing procedure and process.
All reports should also be made in good faith by a whistleblower and should not constitute false accusations. In the case of false accusations, it’s important to include written policy on how that situation will be managed.
By providing your policy and procedure document with a solid set of definitions and goals, you provide your employees with greater understanding of their role and the role of your organization.
- The reporting process
Your staff members need to understand exactly how their reports are handled by this process. How can they make a report and when can they do it? Can they use a web portal and the phone? Can they access the whistleblowing hotline after hours or is it only available at specific times?
It’s important to preserve the anonymity and confidentiality of the person making the report, and this must be specified in your document. There are also times when a staff member may self-identify during the reporting process, and they need to understand what that means related to their anonymity.
Once the report has been made, the staff member needs to understand what is done with it and who has access to it. How and where is it recorded? Will it be passed up the chain of command to specific individuals with authority to act on the report? Who will receive notifications of the report?
Your procedure needs to outline and define each step of this part of your procedure manual so that staff members feel safe and secure.
- The process of investigation
Finally, your procedure document should detail the steps that are taken during an investigation. Ideally, misconduct and ethical breaches should be investigated with an open mind, but done so with rapidity and efficiency.
In this context, ask yourself these important questions and define them within your procedural document: How long will the investigative process take from the time of the report? Will an investigative committee be formed? Will any other internal or external parties be involved in the investigation?
A solid procedure will provide assurances
If you’re about to implement a reporting process within you organization, it’s important to prepare a whistleblower procedure document that can be accessed and viewed by everyone. Doing this provides assurances to all staff members and stakeholders and encourages a more positive working culture. Ethical Advocate has sample procedural documentation based on actual client implementations to assist this documentation. Contact us for more details.