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Transparency International Ireland publishes guidance for whistleblowers affected by COVID-19

8 April 2020

Dublin, 8 April 2020

Transparency International (TI) Ireland has today published guidance on whistleblowing for workers and employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance includes support and resources for anyone looking to report wrongdoing, ethical misconduct or health and safety risks in the workplace.

‘We have already seen reports from the UK and US of health workers being ‘gagged’ by management and threatened with dismissal if they speak up about concerns about their employer’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. We have also heard of cases involving theft of PPE and fraud against hospitals which are putting people’s lives at even greater risk. We can’t afford to ignore workers who might draw attention to such wrongdoing during this crisis – too much is at stake.’, said John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland.

The right of workers to a safe work environment and the importance of speaking up about health and safety risks, fraud, and other abuses is protected by law. Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing actions that threaten the public interest. We have developed this guidance so that workers can report, see action taken swiftly and know there is support available when it’s needed’, he added.

The guidance includes resources and advice for concerned health workers and other essential workers. There is also information on how to raise a concern with an employer, regulator or trade union.

TI Ireland will continue to assist people through its Speak Up Helpline, an information and referral service for people looking to report wrongdoing.

Individuals can call Freephone 1800 844 866 to speak with a staff member from TI Ireland, or log onto www.speakup.ie to send an anonymous or confidential message online. Workers who wish to make a protected disclosure may be offered an appointment with the Transparency Legal Advice Centre (TLAC).

As part of its Integrity at Work programme, TI Ireland has also published a dedicated COVID-19 information page for employers with guidance on handling COVID-19 related concerns and other protected disclosures during the crisis.

‘Employers can continue to receive and act on concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. They are obliged to provide an accessible means for staff to make disclosures and this information should be visible on the organisation’s website. A manager or dedicated staff member should also be available to receive and respond to disclosures remotely via phone, email or video.

‘Workers are part of an organisation’s best early-warning system, and now more than ever, organisations should ensure that staff and contractors are supported in speaking up and that issues are addressed quickly’, added Mr Devitt.

Notes for Editors

  • TI Ireland’s guidance for workers is available here
  • TI Ireland’s guidance for employers is available here
  • For guidance on blowing the whistle or dealing with an ethical dilemma at work, contact the Speak Up Helpline on 1800 844 866, Monday to Friday, 10am - 6pm. You can also contact the Helpline securely online at www.speakup.ie or by using the Signal app to send us an encrypted message at 087 3859996 (www.signal.org). Only Signal-encrypted messages will be responded to.
  • The Speak Up Helpline was launched by TI Ireland in 2011 to provide support to witnesses, whistleblowers and victims of corruption and other wrongdoing. Since then, it has provided information, and referral services to over 1,400 people.
  • TI Ireland also runs the Integrity at Work (IAW) programme, which is a not-for-profit initiative for organisations in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Through training, best practice exchange, online resources and specialist advice and guidance, IAW promotes supportive environments for anyone reporting concerns of wrongdoing or unethical conduct.

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Media contact: Niamh O’Connor - noconnor@transparency.ie / 083 0566363