Fighting corruption in the public sector

Whistleblower Protection



The importance of whistleblower protection

Encouraging employees to report wrongdoing ("or blow the whistle"), and protecting them when they do, is an important part of corruption prevention in both the public and private sectors. Employees are usually the first to recognise wrongdoing in the workplace, so empowering them to speak up without fear of reprisal can help authorities both detect and deter violations.


In the public sector, protecting whistleblowers can make it easier to detect passive bribery, the misuse of public funds, waste, fraud and other forms of corruption. In the private sector, it helps authorities identify cases of active bribery and other corrupt acts committed by companies, and also helps businesses prevent and detect bribery in commercial transactions. Whistleblower protection is thus essential to safeguarding the public interest and to promoting a culture of public accountability and integrity.


The OECD has collected and analysed information on approaches to and trends in whistleblower protection in OECD countries, and developed a "toolkit" for policy makers (see Resources below).


In most jurisdictions, there is an obligation for public officials to report corruption and other wrongdoing. However, employees who do so may be subject to intimidation, harassment, dismissal and even violence from their colleagues or supervisors; individual careers as well as the organisational culture may suffer. Therefore, the encouragement of whistleblowing must be accompanied by legal protection and clear guidance on reporting procedures.

The majority of OECD countries have introduced legal protection for whistleblowers, either through a dedicated law or through provisions in other laws. International anti-corruption instruments have also recognised the importance of whistleblower protection laws.

Whistleblower protection piechart


Seminar - Re-visiting whistleblower protection: From commitments to effective protection  OECD, Paris, 17 June 2014    



Revisiting Whistleblower Protection in OECD Countries: From Commitments to Effective Protection (2014)

Whistleblower protection is an essential element for safeguarding the public interest, for promoting a culture of public accountability and integrity, and for encouraging the reporting of misconduct, fraud and corruption. Re-visiting whistleblower protection and reflecting on what countries have learned in recent years is timely. Countries have undertaken varied approaches to the protection of whistleblowers within their respective jurisdictions. However main trends and conditions for an effective protection of whistleblowers can be identified. This report focuses on the main features of whistleblower protection laws and systems, and provides examples throughout of approaches and trends across OECD countries.



OECD CleanGovBiz Toolkit on Whistleblower Protection

Based on the G20 Guiding Principles Guiding Principles for Legislation on the Protection of Whistleblowers, the OECD CleanGovBiz Toolkit on Whistleblower Protection offers practical guidance through a priority checklist with seven questions addressed to policy makers who are interested in encouraging and protecting whistleblowers.


G20 Study On Whistleblower Protection Frameworks: Compendium of Best Practices and Guiding Principles for Legislation, prepared by the OECD Secretariat for the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group in 2011

At the Seoul Summit in November 2010, G20 Leaders identified the protection of whistleblowers as one of the high priority areas in their global anticorruption agenda, and subsequently included it in point 7 of the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan. Following the request by Members, the OECD prepared a study of the main features of whistleblower protection frameworks in place in G20 countries, together with guiding principles and best practices, to help them carry out their commitments to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers.




International instruments


Interational instruments aimed at combating corruption have also recognised the importance of having whistleblower protection laws in place as part of an effective anti-corruption framework.


Whistleblower protection requirements have been introduced in the:


Legal protetion in selected countries

Australia: Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013


Belgium: The Law of 15 September 2013 relating to the reporting of suspected harm to integrity within a federal administrative authority by a member of its staff


Canada: Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act of 2005


Hungary: 2009 Act CLXIII on the Protection of Fair Procedures (2009. évi CLXIII. törvény)


Japan: Whistleblower Protection Act of 2004


Korea: Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers (Act No. 10472, Mar. 29, 2011)


Netherlands: Decree Regulating the Reporting of Suspected Abuses in the Civil Service and the Police, Decree regulating the Reporting of Suspected Wrongdoing in the Defence, Control procedure and protection in the reporting of suspected wrongdoing (province)


New Zealand: Protected Disclosures Act 2000


United Kingdom: Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998


United States: Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Military Whistleblower Protection Act, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Sarbanes-Oaxley Act of 2002


For more information about whistleblower protection please contact the OECD Integrity Unit at


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