Who can report?

Whistleblower protection in organisations ranges from covering employees to third parties. Third parties may include other categories of organisation members such as: contractors, employees of contractors, vendors, volunteers, interns and directors. In a 2010 survey of their Fraud Academy member organisations, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reported that 55 per cent of organisations provided whistleblowing facilities to stakeholders other than employees (such as contractors, suppliers and third parties) and that 35 per cent of organisations also provided whistleblowing facilities to members of the public.[1]

There is little consensus in the literature on the merits and pitfalls of extending whistleblower protection to members of the public, customers, consumers or other external stakeholders. Some issues for an organisation to consider could be whether national law in their operating country establishes different procedures for public or consumer complaints. The British Standards Institute’s 2008 Whistleblowing arrangements code of practice recommends against expressly extending a whistleblowing policy to the public, citing examples such as the patient/medical professional relationship and the legal charge of negligence as separate issues, among others.[2] Organisations would also need to consider whether they have sufficient resources to maintain a whistleblowing policy which extends to the widest possible scope of members of the public.

Nevertheless, even if an organisation does not extend its whistleblowing policy to members of the public or to customers, it should recognise that these groups are a vital source of information on organisational malpractice and remain open and receptive to their warnings and approaches.[3]


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