21 Nov 2018

Bullying most likely to lead to workplace whistleblowing

3:38 pm on 21 November 2018

New Zealand employees are more likely to report misconduct of a personal nature than fraud or corruption, new whistleblowing research reveals.

Michael McCauley of Victoria University's School of Government co-authored the report, based on a study of 18,000 employees across New Zealand and Australia.

Researchers identified 15 forms of misconduct. Dr McCauley told Nine To Noon bullying was the most common form of misconduct reported.

"Across Australia and New Zealand, both public and private, the biggest issues that were both observed and reported were the personal issues - it was bullying, it was discrimination, it was employment practices."

He said bullying accounted for "the single greatest proportion" of incidents reported.

The research, conducted by Victoria University and Australia's Griffith University, showed 42 per cent of whistleblowers had faced direct employment repercussions as a result of speaking out. Dr McCauley said whistleblowing was innately stressful.

The State Services Commission is seeking public submissions on New Zealand's whistleblowing laws and Dr McCauley said the study gave impetus to the government's plan to change the laws.

The employees surveyed worked across 46 organisations, including six New Zealand public service employers. New Zealanders reported receiving a slightly higher level of emotional support than Australian respondents.

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