Committing to effective whistleblower protection
Foreword Whistleblower protection is integral to fostering transparency, promoting integrity, and detecting misconduct. Past cases demonstrate that corruption, fraud, and wrongdoing, as well as health and safety violations, are much more likely to occur in organisations that are closed and secretive. In many cases, employees will be aware of the wrongdoing, but feel unable to say anything for fear of reprisals, concern about acting against the organisation’s culture, or lack of confidence that the matter will be taken seriously. The negative implications of this are far-reaching for both organisations and society as a whole. Effective whistleblower protection supports employees in “blowing the whistle” on corruption, fraud or wrongdoing.
The OECD has nearly two decades of experience in guiding countries to review whistleblower protection measures, increase awareness, and develop policies founded on international good practices. The OECD pioneered the first soft law instrument on public sector whistleblower protection, with the 1998 Recommendation on Improving Ethical Conduct in the Public Service. In 2009, the OECD Council adopted its Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, requiring the 41 Parties to the Anti-Bribery Convention to put in place public and private sector whistleblower protection measures.
This report is an in-depth analysis of the evolution of standards in whistleblower protection. It takes stock of the progress made over recent years, and shows that, while OECD countries are increasingly adopting whistleblower protection legislation, there remains a long way to go before whistleblowers are effectively protected. The report provides a detailed analysis of whistleblower protection frameworks in OECD and Working Group on Bribery countries and identifies areas for reform. It also proposes next steps to strengthen effective and comprehensive whistleblower protection laws, and ensure protection in both the public and private sectors. Finally, the report includes case studies that provide a snapshot of current whistleblower protection frameworks in various country contexts.
The insights from this report's evidence-based analysis of whistleblower protection frameworks around the globe can serve as a catalyst for change and reform to ensure protection for those who report wrongdoing. Ultimately, effective whistleblower protection systems safeguard better policies, for better lives.