The US government paid a bounty of $5 million ($US3.75 million) to a former employee of Australian mining giant BHP Billiton, as compensation for providing detailed information to US investigators about the mining firm’s overseas activities several years ago.

This raises an intriguing question – should whistleblowers be rewarded?

There is no question that whistleblowing is a positive development within the workplace, and it is proving to be a catalyst for change, with companies recognising that there are enormous benefits to providing their employees with a voice.  However, what motivates each individual to come forward is different, and there is discussion worldwide on whether compensation the answer to that.

There are numerous reasons why whistleblowers should be rewarded:

  • Risk –  whistleblowers often take great personal risk in reporting corruption and need to know that compensation will help outweigh that risk;
  • Incentive – not only the fact that money talks, but fear of the financial consequences for themselves and their families is a real concern so it may be comforting to know that there is money available for their information; and
  • Fresh start – if a whistleblower needs to leave their workplace (or even the industry), it will give them the opportunity to move on without financial stress.

However, not everyone agrees that financially rewarding whistleblowing is a positive thing.

  • Corruption – money is a volatile motivation, and can create further corruption rather than honesty;
  • Legal security, not financial security – whistleblowers need to know that they are legally protected when they come forward, rather than financially compensated; and
  • Disappointment – not all whistleblowers will receive excessively large amounts of money to help them move forward, and will go through years of uncertainty and unemployment.

The arguments are complex and compelling, and whatever your view is, it is clear that something needs to change. The best approach is to create environments within organisations where speaking up is encouraged, embraced and normalised.

STOPline is a recognised leader in the field of whistleblowing. We guarantee anonymity, maintain information security, and you can be assured that you will receive the ultimate level of expertise and professionalism you require.  The STOPline hotline is an independent 1300 number with NO call line identification, and no electronic menu to transverse.

If you are aware of corporate misconduct, please contact STOPline here, or call (03) 9882 4550.