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Review recommends Government set up whistleblowing code of practice

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The Government is being urged to adopt a whistleblowing code of practice and to strengthen the legal protection for whistleblowers.

A report, released yesterday by the Whistleblowing Commission, suggests a code would help whistleblowers come forward without fear of reprisal.

The commission said a code of practice should set out principles enabling workers to raise concerns about a danger, risk, malpractice or wrongdoing. It should be scalable in accordance to an organisation’s size, and set out requirements on how whistleblowing concerns are handled.

The code of practice should also identify the need to independent oversight, a point made last week by Olympus whistleblower Michael Woodford (pictured).

Woodford told HR companies should set up independent hotlines and oversight should be carried out by non-executive directors or the chair of the audit committee.

Other recommendations in the report include strengthening the legal protections to whistelblowers outlined in the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA), including anti-gagging provisions and extending protection to doctors, student nurses and social workers.

The report comes in wake scandals that may have been prevented if whistleblowing rules had been stronger, including Libor rate rigging, construction worker blacklisting and poor standards of care at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Research for the Institute of Business Ethics shows that a quarter of employees are aware of misconduct at work but more than half (52%) of those stay silent.