If you see corruption in your workplace you are in trouble.
A world of trouble.
You will feel trapped.
At first you think your employers will do the right thing.
That they will have integrity.
That those who are in roles of scrutiny and governance will do just that – scrutinise and govern.
Then you discover the truth.
Then you discover they are scared.
Scared to lose money.
And scared people suppress any natural integrity they have.
And become corrupt.
Maybe they are not scared though? Maybe they are simply bold.
That’s even worse.
Arrogant because they think they have better lawyers. And you have a confidentiality clause most likely. Even a clause that says you can’t say you have a clause (you know the type of thing).
The thing they got from the lawyer.
Well let me encourage you with that final word … lawyer.
Let me encourage you with the law.
How can I speak up when I’m not allowed to speak?
You are allowed to speak.
That is what whistleblowing legislation allows. It differs from region to region (check Transparency International and your own laws) but it allows you to make disclosures. For examples some of the advice and links below:
Whistleblowing - Our priorities
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
A ‘qualifying disclosure’ is another name for a ‘whistleblowing’ event.
Here is some relevant links from UK legislation:
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
After Part IV of the M1 Employment Rights Act 1996 (in this Act referred to as "the 1996 Act") there is inserted- to…
A qualifying disclosure is one which in the reasonable belief of the individual tends to show one or more of the following:
(note ‘in the reasonable belief’… you don’t have to have all the evidence, though you most likely will have some, you just have to have a reasonable belief)…
that a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed,
that a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which he is subject,
that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur,
that the health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered,
that the environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged, or
that information tending to show any matter falling within any one of the preceding sub-paragraphs has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.
You got all that?
Note even the final paragraph – any covering or concealing of the problems is worthy of getting out into the open.
My own country’s legislation goes further:
From the 1998 NI (Northern Ireland) Whistleblowing amendment:
“Contractual duties of confidentiality”
67J. – (1) Any provision in an agreement to which this Article applies is void in so far
as it purports to preclude the worker from making a protected disclosure.
(2) This Article applies to any agreement between a worker and his employer (whether a worker’s contract or not), including an agreement to refrain from instituting or continuing any proceedings under this Order or any proceedings for breach of contract.”
You got that?
‘any provision in an agreement … is void…’ if it is thought the person cannot make a protected disclosure of illegality.
Confidentiality Clauses cannot stop you reporting criminality, corruption or any other reason that would be of public interest (ie. to any other person).
Or as the great Eileen Chubb (with deep experience and concern for whistleblowing within the NHS and Carehomes) said,
‘an NDA that stops someone reporting a crime is tantamount to perverting the course of justice.’
So, you have every right to speak up and you cannot be gagged even with an NDA or settlement.
Of course you are not there to ‘bad mouth’ an employer or release confidential business ideas or contacts.
Whistleblowers don’t do that.
They want the right thing done and the wrong things stopped.
Who should I talk to?
Your employer should have whistleblowing procedures within their company handbook or your original contract.
In some cases you may not be able to go to that person (if they are at the centre of what you believe to be is the corruption).
In which case you go to the higher ups, the Board etc.
If they are inactive (remember – scared or arrogant often stops integrity) then you can go to various regulators for your particular industry, a local government official (e.g. your MP), the Insolvency Service (if issues with Directors) etc.
Up to and even including the media if you feel there is a public interest (that the illegality could continue if not stopped).
And let us not forget the importance of the media and the role they play on shining lights on issues society needs to attend to.
If some of that is causing you problems then read on…
Where else can I get help?
As well as Transparency International, if you want to talk to someone in the UK, contact Eileen Chubb through here:
Compassion in Care | Breaking The Chain of Elderly Abuse Complacency - Ignorance - Denial - Silence
My name is Eileen Chubb and I am founder and Director of Compassion in Care. I am a former care worker who witnessed…
There are other groups such as “Protect” who offer free, confidential advice:
Protect - Speak up stop harm | The Whistleblowing Charity
Protect aims to make whistleblowing work for individuals, organisations and society. Every year, we support around 3,000…
Talk to Eileen first.
Good luck and peace to you, you will need energy and determination.
And don’t forget,
the truth will come out: