More than half (51%) of whistleblowers report being treated differently at work after speaking out, according to research from law firm Slater and Gordon.
The research found that 48% were made to feel unwelcome and 30% felt they were constantly criticised by their boss after they had raised concerns. More than a quarter (27%) said their colleagues wouldn’t talk to them afterwards, while 21% felt they were passed over for promotion. Only 7% said they were praised for their actions.
More than one in eight (13%) respondents reported that no action was taken as a result of their whistleblowing, while 9% were totally ignored.
Additionally, 33% of all workers would be worried about revealing illegal or dangerous activities undertaken by their employer. The main reasons cited were fears of losing their job (53%) and a negative impact on their career (23%).
However, 67% of employees would consider exposing illegal activity if they could complain anonymously, and 17% would speak out if offered a financial reward.
Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Samantha Mangwana said many do not understand those laws designed to protect workers who highlight organisational wrongdoing.
“Our research shows that being able to remain anonymous would make a big difference to employees’ thinking when it comes to speaking out, while a lot of people said they would blow the whistle if they would be protected,” she said. “Too many fear they will suffer at the hands of their employer if they speak out, and many would prefer to go outside of their organisation to expose what is going on.”
She added: “The fact that a large percentage of people said they wouldn’t speak out even if they saw the law being broken illustrates just how worried they are about what will happen to them if they do.”