Addressing complaints

Good faith

Procedures should require that all reports are acknowledged, recorded and investigated without undue delay, provided that the report is considered to be made in good faith (namely, a sincere belief that the disclosure is true) by the actor responsible for complaints.[1] A safeguard against unfair treatment of a complaint is to provide the whistleblower with unrestricted ability to elevate the matter to higher levels within the reporting chain.[2]

Transparency International advocates for a threshold of whistleblower protection at “reasonable belief in wrongdoing”, extending protection to those who make inaccurate disclosures in honest error.[3] 

Organisations should be careful not to deter reporters who make complaints in good faith, even if these turn out not to be true. In parallel, procedures should make clear that protection will not be extended to those found to have knowingly made a false complaint and detail appropriate sanctions against this.  

Follow-up procedure

Where possible (bearing in mind, for example, the need to balance the interests of the party against whom the allegations are raised), the whistleblower should be kept updated on the progress of the investigation. They should be informed of who their complaint will be referred to, and the timeline and outcome of the investigation.[4]

Ensuring that the whistleblower can contact the designated person handling the complaint and keeping him or her updated on progress can also help to pre-empt problems and provide reassurance, for example, that the complaint is being addressed and not ignored.[5]


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