The Best Warning System: Whistleblowing During Covid-19
About the report
What does whistleblowing in a pandemic look like? Do employers take concerns more seriously – as we would all hope? Does the victimisation of whistleblowers still happen? Does a pandemic compel more people to speak up? We wanted to know, so we analysed the data from all the Covid-19 related calls to our Advice Line.
We found that too many whistleblowers feel ignored and isolated once they raise their concerns and that these failing are a systematic problem.
Protect, which runs an Advice Line for whistleblowers, and supports more than 3,000 whistleblowers each year, has been inundated with Covid-19 whistleblowing concerns, many of an extremely serious nature. Its report, The Best Warning System: Whistleblowing During Covid-19 examines over 600 Covid-19 calls to its Advice Line between March and September. The majority of cases were over furlough fraud and risk to public safety, such as a lack of social distancing and PPE in the workplace.
For almost 30 years, we have run a confidential Advice Line for whistleblowers, and to date have supported more than 45,000 whistleblowers across all sectors.
Employers ignored 41% of all whistleblowers raising Covid-19 concerns, this figure climbed to 43% if the whistleblower was raising a concern about public safety risks.
20% of whistleblowers were dismissed after raising concerns about Covid-19 issues.
Almost half of concerns raised regarding ‘increasing risk to public safety’ were from health and care key workers, with just 10% saying their employers investigated their concerns.
Furlough fraud within the workplace made up 62% of Covid-19 cases to the Advice Line – and is the fastest emerging issue Protect has dealt with in its history.
The Best Warning System: Whistleblowing During Covid-19 features real life anonymised case studies from whistleblowers reporting on furlough fraud and risks to public safety such as the case studies below:
- Introduction of a legal standard on employers to have whistleblowing arrangements in place, including a requirement to give whistleblowers feedback on the concerns raised
- A penalty regime where an organisation can be fined or sanctioned for breaching the whistleblowing standards.
- New legal standards on all regulators to ensure they deal effectively and promptly with whistleblowing concerns being raised to them – and regulators doing much more to drive up standards of whistleblowing arrangements amongst entities they regulate
- Legal aid and reform to whistleblowing law is needed to ensure that whistleblowers who are treated badly or dismissed have an effective remedy.