20% of whistleblowers suffer at work as result

One in five employees in the State who report wrongdoing at work has suffered as a result, according to a survey by the anti-corruption body Transparency International.

However, 28% of those who reported wrongdoing said that speaking out had had a positive impact on their working lives, according to the survey, seen by the Irish Examiner.

Transparency International’s ‘Integrity At Work’ survey also found that one in 10 employees had reported wrongdoing at work in the course of their career.

The survey of 1,150 employers and employees was conducted by the Behaviour and Attitudes Company.

The survey, published in Transparency’s Speak Up report, due to be published this week, suggests that the findings that a relatively low cohort of whistleblowers who suffer as a result of complaints might justify further research into perceptions of whistleblowers in the workplace.

“It is possible that many workers who meet the definition of whistleblower do not self-identify as whistleblowers largely because they do not suffer as a result of speaking out or because their reports [such as petty fraud or health and safety concerns] are often welcomed by their employees,” the report states.

The report also notes that since the Protected Disclosures Act was introduced in 2014 the number of calls to Transparency’s helpline from whistleblowers has increased. The act provides legal protections from retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. The number of whistleblowers calling Transparency’s helpline increased from 15% in 2014 to 27% in 2016.

Despite the protections afforded by the law, 31% of respondents said that the key barrier preventing them reporting wrongdoing was fear of losing their job.

Another 22% said the key barrier was that any complaint would make no difference, while 13% cited fear that a colleague would lose their job if wrongdoing were reported.

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