16 January 2014 by

Blowing the whistle in South Africa

Whistleblowing is attracting high-profile media attention across the world and is proving to be a key concern for South African multi-national employers, especially in relation to the cultural attitudes, regulations and differing levels of protections across the globe, according to DLA Piper, the global law firm.

The report, 'Whistleblowing: An employer's guide to global compliance', reveals that employers must be aware of the issues of wrongdoing in the workplace and outlines the challenges for global employers seeking to minimise the risks to their business.

Whistleblowers play an important, though often risky, role in exposing corruption. Balanced against this is the need for employers not to have business interests hampered by malicious accusations. This delicate balancing act is a trend we expect to see continue in the global workplace, as significant cultural differences could lead to multi-national companies underestimating the notable compliance hurdles to implementing uniform whistleblowing policies across their global business.

The report identifies that international employers need to take a global approach to managing whistleblowing effectively and that companies need to be aware of the sharp contrasts in culture between jurisdictions so that they can tailor their approach to meet the demands of their global business. 

Tim Marshall partner and DLA Piper's International Head of Employment said: "The cultural differences are often embedded in history meaning imposing universal policies and procedures is unlikely to succeed in effective management of whistleblowing.

"Companies operating in a global business environment with subsidiaries across a large number of jurisdictions face a daunting challenge. However employers who have a comprehensive policy that meets the needs of differing regimes and educates  staff about their obligations will reap the rewards."

Aadil Patel, Employment Partner at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, a DLA Piper Africa Group firm in South Africa, stated: “Recent laws have been established in South Africa on the back of a growing recognition amongst South African businesses for the need for whistleblower protection. Whistleblowing should be considered healthy for organisations because it usually means a safer option than silence."

The full report is available to download here REPORT

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