Less than half of UK employers have procedures in place to protect whistleblowers – halfway down a global league table of major nations.
Just 40% of UK businesses surveyed by accountancy firm Grant Thornton for the International Business Report provided a comfortable environment for staff wishing to report misconduct by other employees.
The survey of 7,800 private firms in 33 countries found that the UK came 16th at enabling employees to inform bosses about business malpractice such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption.
Brazil topped the list, with 85% of the Latin American nation’s employers having formal measures for whistleblowers. And nearly six in 10 US companies have set measures.
Alysoun Stewart, head of Grant Thornton’s entrepreneurial advisory group, said: “UK businesses currently adopt a reasonably weak stance on whistleblowing. Yet informants that report illegal or wrongful activities can save businesses millions.”
Stewart warned that without sufficient measures in place, whistleblowers can be victimised as informants or traitors.
Whistleblowers in the UK are covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which protects against dismissal and discriminatory treatment as long as a whistleblower has acted in good faith and has not gained personally from the disclosure.
Earlier this year the chancellor of the exchequer announced plans to increase the powers of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), to change attitudes towards whistleblowing and to act as a preventative measure against corruption in the finance sector.