Results of a FTSE top 100 website survey on whistleblowing arrangements

Lewis, David B. ORCID logoORCID: and Boylin, Tracy (2018) Results of a FTSE top 100 website survey on whistleblowing arrangements. Discussion Paper. Middlesex University, London, UK. . [Monograph]

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Executive summary

• For the purposes of this survey, the FTSE top 100 companies were identified at the beginning of August 2018 and their websites were scrutinised between August and October 2018.

• Of the 10 firms who did not appear to mention such a procedure (or policy) on their website: 2 had under 500 staff; another 5 had 10,000 -100,000; 2 had 100,001 – 200, 000 and 1 had more than 200,001.

• In relation to who has overall responsibility for the procedure, some aspect of the audit function was most frequently mentioned.

• 21 firms had a system in place for monitoring concerns raised under the procedure/policy.

• Given that interns and volunteers are not normally protected by whistleblowing statutes, it was encouraging to find that 26 firms gave both access to their procedures.

• The three most frequently used mechanisms for making people aware of the procedure were printed policy statements (69 firms); internet web pages (29 firms); and specifically targeted training (17 firms).

• The most frequently mentioned categories of reportable concerns were financial irregularities (70 firms); malpractice (67 firms) and health and safety (65 firms). These are in line with previous empirical studies but we were interested to note the express mention of modern slavery by 15 firms and human rights by an additional 4.

• In terms of mechanisms for reporting concerns, those featuring most frequently are telephone calls (46); oral reports (41); and emails (28). ‘Hotlines’ were also very common, with external ones being mentioned slightly more often than internal ones (31 compared to 27).

• As regards the person to whom concerns should be reported, the line manager was identified by 57 firms.

• A wide variety of alternative recipients were displayed on the websites. The most common were: human resources (28); external providers (27) and internal ‘hotlines’ (21).

• Consistent with previous research, confidentiality was more readily available (61 firms) than anonymity (35 firms).

• Given the change in the UK law in 2013, it is slightly disappointing to see that 28 of the FTSE top 100 still required disclosures of information to be made in good faith. None of the websites suggested that firms had incorporated the statutory public interest test into their procedure/policy.

• 31 firms indicated that their procedure provided for disciplinary action to be taken against those who victimise a person reporting a concern.

• Given that UK employers have now had 20 years since legislation was passed to introduce whistleblowing procedures voluntarily, we think there is now a strong case for making them mandatory in both the public and private sectors. One effect might be that the FTSE top 100 (and other employers) would be encouraged to identify best practice in their sector and incorporate it into their arrangements. We hope that this report provides some pointers as to what best practice involves.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
Item ID: 31723
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Dave Lewis
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2021 13:57
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2021 13:57

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