Whistle-blowing is when an employee discloses wrongdoing to the employer or the public. Whistle-blowers are reporting something that affects the wider community. It can be perceived as an individual moral choice, but in some cases employees would have a legal responsibility to report unethical behaviour because of the likelihood of this behaviour being illegal. 

In most cases in the UK, whistle-blowers are protected under The Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998). In the US, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) aims to prosecute business executives who retaliate against whistle-blowers. British whistle-blowers are legal witnesses, so they do not have to give evidence of what they are reporting. It is also possible for people to whistle-blow anonymously, although this can make investigating the claim more difficult. This is all to encourage whistle-blowing as something which serves the public interest. The government and society sees it as good that people are able to pass on information about wrongdoing or risks to safety so that these issues can be put right; encouraging the practice also helps convince companies to take their social responsibilities seriously, for fear that they will be exposed by their own employees. 

Is whistle-blowing ever unethical? 

Legal protection for whistle-blowers is expectedly discontinued if the person is found to be simply making accusations because they have a problem with the business and/or its employees. There are also certain types of work which are not legally protected, such as military or armed services. This is because whistle-blowing in this sector could risk


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