Whistle Blower Policy And The Indian Corporate Governance

  • October 2, 2017
  • 12:35 am
  • Vaishnavi Sen

Whistle Blower Policy

Word Meaning – A whistleblower as defined by this policy is an employee of (Name of Company/Organization) who reports an activity that he/she considers to be illegal or dishonest to one or more of the parties specified in this Policy. The whistleblower is not responsible for investigating the activity or for determining fault or corrective measures; appropriate management officials are charged with these responsibilities.

Whistle blowing means calling attention to wrongdoing that is occurring within an organization. The Government Accountability Project lists four ways to blow the whistle:

  • reporting wrongdoing or a violation of the law to the proper authorities.
  • such as a supervisor, a hotline or an Inspector General
  • refusing to participate in workplace wrongdoing
  • testifying in a legal proceeding
  • leaking evidence of wrongdoing to the media

There are two types of whistleblowing. The first is internal whistleblowing. This means that the whistleblower reports misconduct to another person within the organization. The second type is external whistleblowing. This means that the whistleblower reports misconduct to a person outside the organization, such as law enforcement or the media.

Federal Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers can also be designated by the type of whistleblowing. Let’s first take a look at federal whistleblowers. These are government employees who reveal misconduct committed by their employers or can also be private-sector employees who inform about the misconduct of their employers that is committed in relation to the federal government. For people who work for the federal government, the Whistleblower Protection Act, or WPA, protects disclosures of misconduct. This law protects federal employees who disclose illegal or improper government activities.

The WPA shields federal employees from retaliatory action once the employee voluntarily discloses information regarding dishonest or illegal activities within a government organization. The government can’t take action against, or threaten to take action against, the employee. Generally, this means the government can’t fire, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or discriminate against a whistleblower.

The WPA was enacted in 1989 and most recently updated through the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. But, federal whistleblowers were around long before that. In 1966, a 27-year old epidemiologist working for the U.S. Public Health Service discovered the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment while conducting routine interviews on patients.

Peter Buxtun uncovered information revealing that the federal government purposely denied medical treatment to black men, mostly sharecroppers, suffering from syphilis. Despite the invention of penicillin in the 1940s and widespread education on prevention in the 1960s, these men were allowed to suffer, infect their wives and children, and die so that the federal government could conduct autopsies for medical research. Almost 400 men unwittingly participated in the experiments between 1932 and 1972.

Buxtun filed formal ethical complaints with the government two times before finally turning to the media four years later. After the public found out, the medical experiments were ended and medical research saw major overhauls. According to President Bill Clinton years later, ‘the United States government did something that was wrong – deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens… clearly racist.’

Corporate Whistleblowers

Public policy encourages the reporting of misconduct by private businesses as well. The Enron scandal came to light in 2001 and almost immediately affected thousands of people. Many more would have been affected, and more loss incurred, if not for the efforts of a corporate whistleblower. These whistleblowers are employees of corporations or other private businesses that disclose statutory or regulatory violations by the employer.

The Enron whistleblower was Sherron Watkins. She was an Enron executive when she discovered accounting irregularities showing that the company had purposely inflated the value of its stock. Enron was the seventh largest company in the nation at the time. As a result of the deceit, thousands of people lost jobs, pensions, retirement funds and other investments. Many of these people, like those holding investment portfolios through the University of California, weren’t associated with Enron at all.

Corporate whistleblowers are protected by the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act. This act is a subset of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was enacted in 2002 as a direct answer to the issues raised by Enron and other corporate fraud scandals. These laws hope to encourage whistleblowing by protecting employees who disclose certain securities-related violations by making retaliation a federal crime.

Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2011

Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011 is an Act in the Parliament of India which provides a mechanism to investigate alleged corruption and misuse of power by public servants and also protect anyone who exposes alleged wrongdoing in government bodies, projects and offices. The wrongdoing might take the form of fraud, corruption or mismanagement. The Act will also ensure punishment for false or frivolous complaints.

The Act was approved by the Cabinet of India as part of a drive to eliminate corruption in the country’s bureaucracy and passed by the Lok Sabha on 27 December 2011. The Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on 21 February 2014 and received the President’s assent on 9 May 2014.

  • The Act seeks to protect whistle blowers, i.e. persons making a public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offense by a public servant.
  • Any public servant or any other person including a non-governmental organization may make such a disclosure to the Central or State Vigilance Commission.
  • Every complaint has to include the identity of the complainant.
  • The Vigilance Commission shall not disclose the identity of the complainant except to the head of the department if he deems it necessary. The Act penalizes any person who has disclosed the identity of the complainant.
  • The Act prescribes penalties for knowingly making false complaints.

 

Anonymity and confidentiality

Notification can be made anonymously, but normally transparency will ensure a better procedure and a better outcome for all parties involved. The whistleblower’s identity shall not be revealed without consent.

Prohibition to punish the whistleblower

It is forbidden to punish or sanction against whistleblowers. Whistleblowers who are experiencing such, must inform their responsible consultant who should immediately consider the matter. The whistleblower can also contact ManpowerGroup’s safety representatives

Conclusion

Whistleblowing is positive both for the business and for society because misconduct can be corrected. Conditions such as violating laws, internal regulations or ethical standards shall be notified. Employees who are willing to whistle blow are an essential resource for ManpowerGroup. It is also the individual’s duty to notify us of unacceptable circumstances