Whistleblowing among key workers increases

Just under half of key workers have blown the whistle on their employer for engaging in dangerous workplace practices during the coronavirus pandemic, a study has found.

The research surveyed 1,000 key workers in August, including nurses, doctors, teachers, service workers and transport staff. It found many had been forced to highlight issues that could put colleagues, customers and patients at risk from Covid-19.

The most common concern among those surveyed was an inability to social distance, cited by more than half. More than two-fifths cited a lack of or limited PPE, and a quarter said they were most concerned about employers forcing vulnerable people back to the workplace.

Additionally, 15% said their workplace had not upheld the Government’s required health and safety standards during the pandemic.

This report points to a worrying number of key workers perceiving malpractice in their organisations and suggests that organisations must be held to account. The research indicated a lack of trust among workers that their employer would act fairly and ethically. One in five said they suspected their employer of using the pandemic as a cover to pursue unethical workplace practices. One in eight said they had seen Covid being used as an excuse to unfairly dismiss people, and 14% reported staff being refused furlough despite being vulnerable or living with shielding family members.

The onus is always on employers to ensure a safe work environment, but history shows us that some won’t take steps without prompting from staff. One of the aims of having statutory whistle blower protection is for staff to raise these concerns with protection from any unfair they may face from employers as a result of having raised the concern.

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