Whistleblowing cases may rise if trust lost through job cuts isn’t rebuilt

HR managers must rebuild staff trust lost through job cuts, or they could leave themselves open to a rise in the number of whistleblowers, according to the CIPD.

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), made the comments after two whistleblowing helplines were set up in different sectors within the space of four weeks.

Earlier this week, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) opened a whistleblowing hotline after its survey of 5,000 nurses found more than three-quarters were concerned of a negative impact on their career if they reported concerns to management.

In the wake of the Baby P scandal, Ofsted launched a whistleblowing hotline for children’s services workers in April.

Emmott told Personnel Today: “There will be many organisations where management has to work to regain the measure of trust they might have had a year ago that was dented by redundancies.

“An employee who goes to a union [with a concern about the company’s conduct] is probably looking to create a public scandal rather than deal with the issue, and there will be far fewer of those cases if there is a culture of trust in an organisation.”

Gerry O’Dwyer, RCN senior employment relations adviser, said whistleblowers did not have to tell their organisation about reporting claims externally.

“We will ask the caller whether they have reported the matter, but it won’t be a requirement to tell HR or their boss first,” he said.

A spokesman for NHS employers admitted the onus was on managers to create a culture where staff felt comfortable enough to raise issues internally.

“The local employer must ensure the right processes and culture are in place to enable staff to raise any concerns without fear,” he said.

Unite, the UK’s largest manufacturing union, and construction union Ucatt said creating their own whistleblowing hotlines remained a possibility if relations between employers and their members took a turn for the worse. Unite previously launched an anti-bullying whistleblowing call centre, which has since closed.

A survey last month by leadership consultancy Endaba found one in four employees don’t trust their HR department.

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