How to Handle Whistleblower Reports?

Whistleblower reports are crucial in uncovering and preventing illegal activities, irregularities, and other harmful actions within organisations. It is essential to follow a clear plan to ensure an effective and fair handling of these reports. This article will review the critical steps in handling whistleblower reports.

If your company lacks a secure reporting channel, you should start by establishing one. At a minimum, it should ensure confidential – preferably anonymous – communication with the designated whistleblower unit. Various solutions facilitate the handling of whistleblower reports, including Sheltr’s whistleblower solution.

When establishing the channel, a whistleblower unit must be appointed to receive and handle reports.

1. Receipt of the Report

Confirmation of Receipt Within 7 Days

When the whistleblower unit receives a report, a confirmation should be sent to the whistleblower, indicating that the report has been received and will be treated confidentially. If the workplace allows for anonymous reporting, for example, through a portal solution, receipt should still be confirmed if possible.

2. Initial Assessment


The whistleblower unit conducts an initial assessment to determine if the report falls within the scope of the whistleblower scheme. This step involves a brief evaluation of the report's relevance and severity. If the report falls outside the scope of the law, the whistleblower unit must inform the whistleblower. In such cases, the whistleblower can be encouraged to contact the nearest manager, HR, or similar.


Reports are prioritised based on their potential impact and the urgency with which they need to be investigated. Severe cases that pose an immediate risk are given the highest priority.

3. Investigation

Appointment of Investigation Team

The investigation can be carried out by the whistleblower unit or by the respective department, which then submits a report to the whistleblower unit. When appointing the investigation team, the workplace must be mindful of potential conflicts of interest and ensure confidentiality is maintained. Regardless of the method, the whistleblower unit is responsible for assessing the thoroughness of the investigation.

The selected investigation team gathers relevant information and evidence. Evidence may include documents, emails, interviews with relevant parties, and other necessary data.


The collected data is thoroughly analysed to identify patterns and determine whether laws, regulations, or internal policies have been violated.

4. Conclusion and Consequences

Preparation of Report

Upon completing the investigation, the whistleblower unit should prepare a report and recommend necessary and appropriate actions to the organisation’s management.

5. Follow-Up

Implementation of Recommendations

The organisation must ensure that the recommended measures are implemented effectively and within a reasonable timeframe.

Communication with Whistleblower

If possible, the whistleblower should be informed of the investigation results and any planned or taken actions, provided this does not compromise confidentiality or safety. This should occur within three months of confirming the receipt of the report.

Ongoing Monitoring

It is advisable to establish mechanisms for continuous evaluation of the implementation of recommendations to ensure the desired improvements are achieved.

6. Documentation


All steps in the handling of the whistleblower report must be thoroughly documented to ensure transparency and accountability. Documentation may also be crucial in potential legal proceedings.

The retention period of personal data and case content depends on the outcome of the individual report. Sheltr’s whistleblower solution includes a baseline and an automated solution for compliance with this.

Effective handling of whistleblower reports requires a structured and transparent process. By following the above steps, an organisation can ensure that reports are handled fairly, quickly, and effectively, thereby contributing to a trustworthy and open culture.

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