What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the act of reporting illegal, unethical or improper activities in an organization by an employee or member of the organization. These denunciations are usually made with the aim of protecting the public interest and the integrity of the organization.

What laws protect whistleblowers?

Many countries have whistleblower protection laws to ensure that those who report wrongdoing do not suffer retaliation. In the United States, for example, there is the Whistleblower Protection Act. Laws can vary according to country and jurisdiction. In Portugal, the Whistleblower Protection Act (Law no. 93/2021, of December 20) transposes Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of persons who report breaches of European Union law.

What constitutes a valid report?

A valid report usually involves truthful and substantial information about illegal, unethical or improper activities within the organization. The report must be made in good faith and not with malicious motives.

How is confidentiality maintained in whistleblowing?

Confidentiality is essential to protect the whistleblower. Many organizations have anonymous reporting channels, such as hotlines or online systems, to allow whistleblowers to report concerns without revealing their identity.

What are the typical procedures for making a report?

Procedures can vary, but generally involve the following:

  • Identifying a whistleblowing channel, either internal (through company access) or external (such as a regulatory agency).
  • Gathering solid evidence.
  • Making the report through the appropriate channel.
  • Protect your identity, if desired, by opting for anonymous reporting.
  • Cooperate with any subsequent investigation.

What are the possible consequences for the reported organization?

Depending on the irregularities reported and the subsequent investigations, the reported organization may face legal sanctions, fines, loss of reputation and other consequences. The specific actions will depend on local laws and the circumstances of the case.

How are retaliations against whistleblowers prevented?

Whistleblower protection laws are designed to prevent retaliation. In addition, many organizations have internal policies to prohibit retaliation and provide safe communication channels for whistleblowers (click and read our article: Whistleblowing law: Protecting and empowering employees).

What are the benefits of making a report?

Making a report can help prevent illegal or unethical activities, protect the public interest, improve the transparency and integrity of organizations and, in some cases, reward the whistleblower with legal or financial protection.

Remember that laws and policies relating to whistleblowing can vary significantly by country and jurisdiction, so it is advisable to seek specific guidance when considering making a report.


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