Feedback from employees is crucial to employers wanting to keep their finger on the pulse of a business. It is essential for management to be aware of risky behaviours occurring within a workplace, such as bullying, circumstances giving rise to easily preventable worker's compensation claims, failure to comply with regulations, corruption, or even criminal activities such as embezzlement, theft or fraud. In many circumstances, this information will only become available through the cooperation of whistleblowers.
In order to ensure that accurate information is conveyed, it is essential for businesses to make sure that potential whistleblowers are protected from persecution, ridicule or reprisals during the investigation. But how does this occur in practice?
A whistleblower is somebody who reports internal wrongdoing within an organisation, either to a senior member of the organisation or to an external authority, such as the police or the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
Generally speaking, protection is afforded to those who are current employees, officers or even contractors who are engaged in providing goods or services to an organisation.
Information which is provided to an employer by a whistleblower is considered a 'protected disclosure', which must remain confidential and which can only be passed on if specifically authorised by law or by the whistleblower.
Although Australia has some legal provisions in place to ensure that whistleblowers are protected from reprisal or other involvement in litigation, there is still much more that can be done to encourage the reporting of wrongdoing observed within a company.
If you are concerned that your workplace may not provide sufficient incentive to employees to report wrongdoing, or provides insufficient support to those who do reveal sensitive information, sign up to WISE Workplace's 24/7 whistleblower program, Grapevine. The program offers independent monitoring of complaints and assessments of appropriate methods of dealing with complaints, as well as advice on how best to advise your employees that they are entitled to whistleblower protections.
Ensure that your organisation is strengthened internally by implementing a strong whistleblower policy to guarantee that all staff feel comfortable providing information relating to misconduct or inappropriate behaviour.
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