Public attitudes to whistleblowing in the workplace in 2021 – YouGov research
As part of our Let’s Fix UK Whistleblowing Law campaign, we wanted to know how UK workers felt about whistleblowing in their workplaces, if they felt safe to speak up if they needed to, if they felt protected by the current whistleblowing law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, and if they knew who in the workplace was protected.
Protect commissioned a YouGov survey of 2,005 people in March-April 2021 and below are some of the findings.
Who is protected by the UK whistleblowing law?
Not everyone is protected by the UK whistleblowing law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
Our campaign, Let’s Fix UK Whistleblowing Law wants this to change so more people in today’s work places, such as volunteers and trustees, governors and non-executive directors are also protected if they blow the whistle on wrongdoing they have witnessed.
We wanted to test public awareness on the UK whistleblowing law, and asked the question, which of the following groups do you think are protected?
People on work placements
Governors eg school governors
Public Office Holders eg local authority councillor
8% of the UK population were almost correct by saying none of these groups. Only part-time workers out of all these groups have whistleblower protection.
When asked, which of these groups do you think should be covered by whistleblowing legislation, most agreed. The highest percentages are shown below.
Public Office Holders
How many workers know how to raise a whistleblowing concern at work?
No, but could find out if I needed to
No, I don't know
Does your employer have a whistleblowing policy?
Poor communication of employer whistleblowing arrangements is something we see a lot… so this finding wasn’t too surprising to us, but it’s a far too high statistic and one that employers should work on for good business governance.
Why we need a legal duty on employers
Currently, there is no universal requirement for employers to have in place whistleblowing channels or to investigate serious public interest concerns raised by their staff.
YouGov research highlights that UK workers – 76% – want to see all employers have whistleblowing standards in place.
80% of UK workers agree with Protect that employers should face sanctions for breaching those standards.