Whistleblowing – introduction

Jillian Naylor, partner in our Employment and Incentives practice, talks about our Listen Up! Campaign.

 

In today’s world, enabling employees and stakeholders to safely voice concerns through formal and informal channels – and having the infrastructure in place to hear and deal with those concerns – is a cornerstone of good governance and is at the heart of a healthy and open culture.

 

Covid-19 has created its own set of challenges: there is emerging evidence of an increase in whistleblowing reports made by employees during the pandemic. These include reports directly related to the pandemic eg. allegations of abuses of the furlough scheme and exposing employees to unsafe working conditions contrary to government guidance. There is also anecdotal evidence that employees away from their normal workplace have felt emboldened to make reports about a range of other issues, from suspicions of fraud or financial wrongdoing to allegations of harassment.

 

Employers are now faced with the challenges of responding to the reports, treating employees who have come forward fairly, and where necessary, conducting internal investigations in the novel circumstances created by lockdown and social distancing conditions.

Whistleblowing – an overview

With whistleblowing cases regularly making the news headlines, there is increasing recognition that whistleblowing provisions play a vital role in risk management within all organisations, regardless of industry sector or size.

 View our short video summary of the associated risks for companies that do not have an effective framework in place.

Whistleblowing Reporting Trends

Whistleblowing - reporting trends

We’ve looked into the whistleblowing and reporting policies and procedures of major companies across UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific.  You can review the data here and see the current trends. Click on the map icons.

APAC listed companies

We looked at the visibility of policies and procedures across APAC-listed companies. Our 2018 research found that 82% of companies publicly refer to having a reporting channel. Of that 82%, a high proportion – 76% – make the policy publicly available. See our analysis here.

Europe listed companies 

We looked at the visibility of policies and procedures across Europe’s top companies. In 2018, 91% of top European companies publicly refer to having a reporting channel for concerns, compared to 79% back in 2014.  Of the 91% of companies that publicly reference a reporting channel in 2018, only 50% make the policy publicly available. See our analysis here.

UK FTSE 100 companies

We looked at the visibility of policies and procedures across the UK’s FTSE 100 companies.  “Speak up” arrangements are becoming the new norm.  We compared our results from  2014 and found 71% of FTSE100 companies made reference to having some form of reporting channel, but in late 2018 this has risen to all of the FTSE100 companies.  We can identify some trends eg. it’s typical for reporting arrangements in 2018 to offer a range of methods of escalating concerns with an externally managed independent dedicated phoneline being the most frequently referred to method. See our analysis here.

Whistleblowing - reporting trends

We’ve looked into the whistleblowing and reporting policies and procedures of major companies across UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific.  You can review the data here and see the current trends. Click on the map icons.

APAC listed companies

APAC listed companies

We looked at the visibility of policies and procedures across APAC-listed companies. Our 2018 research found that 82% of companies publicly refer to having a reporting channel. Of that 82%, a high proportion – 76% – make the policy publicly available. See our analysis here.

Europe listed companies

Europe listed companies 

We looked at the visibility of policies and procedures across Europe’s top companies. In 2018, 91% of top European companies publicly refer to having a reporting channel for concerns, compared to 79% back in 2014.  Of the 91% of companies that publicly reference a reporting channel in 2018, only 50% make the policy publicly available. See our analysis here.

FTSE 100 companies

UK FTSE 100 companies

We looked at the visibility of policies and procedures across the UK’s FTSE 100 companies.  “Speak up” arrangements are becoming the new norm.  We compared our results from  2014 and found 71% of FTSE100 companies made reference to having some form of reporting channel, but in late 2018 this has risen to all of the FTSE100 companies.  We can identify some trends eg. it’s typical for reporting arrangements in 2018 to offer a range of methods of escalating concerns with an externally managed independent dedicated phoneline being the most frequently referred to method. See our analysis here.

Our guides

See our interactive guides to whistleblowing/reporting

Europe timeline

European landscape on Whistleblowing laws

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singapore skyline

Asia landscape on Whistleblowing laws

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Insider dealing dealing and clearance

Whistleblowing in the financial services checklist

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Insider Dealing Information and details

UK Guide to managing whistleblowing at work

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Insider dealing your code

Whistleblowing in the financial services sector

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Meeting your training needs

Linklaters Employment and Incentives team offers training and seminars focussed to your needs. These can be short bite-size updates, stand-alone presentations or longer interactive seminars with a more in-depth look at whistleblowing/reporting.

See our range of training materials.

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Governments, regulators, businesses and stakeholders are all increasingly focussing on effective whistleblowing and reporting arrangements

Question marks

What you need to consider

Would you know when someone was raising a concern that might lead to them becoming a whistleblower?

Would you know what to do?

Do you know what the impact on your business might be if you do not act?

With whistleblowing cases regularly making the news headlines, there is increasing recognition that whistleblowing provisions play a vital role in risk management within all organisations, regardless of industry sector or size.

Would you know how to conduct an investigation virtually and holding hearings via video on a virtual basis and without witnesses?

How to ensure employees have a right to a fair hearing – how is this impacted by the new environment (e.g. for those not used to virtual meetings) and what are the challenges to managing these processes with many employees still working from home? Is the traditional approach still appropriate?

How to adapt your Whistleblowing reporting lines/and whistleblowing policies?

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