Rockland international had a long standing whistle blowing policy which had been in existence for seven years when the Art Holmes case came up. The key feature which assured employees of security was that no one will suffer any action as a consequence of making a report which was in compliance with the policy and the company will also attempt to ensure that the employee was protected against other forms of retaliation.
Facing the prospects of a possible lay off as a part of the overall cut in manpower resorted to by the company, Art Holmes probably banked on this clause in the company’s whistle blower policy to report of wrong doings by the head of the purchasing department over one year back. He also provided proof of this wrong doing compiled meticulously. It is thus apparent that the policy had not catered for such an occurrence and in implementation within the processes of natural justice, the company was well within its rights to lay off Art Holmes as the two issues were unrelated.
There is thus ample scope for improving the policy of Rockland International. Whistle blowing guidelines should enable an employee to raise a concern responsibly. An aspect which could be included is of ensuring that employees will raise the matter when it is a, “concern or a suspicion” and do not have to wait for proof or investigate the matter on their own. Such a clause would have ensured that the onus of reporting the fraud immediately on a suspicion was on Art Holmes.
A time limit for reporting a wrong doing could possibly be set but this may be counter productive as employees would then avoid reporting after passage of time. However misuse of whistle blowing as an insurance against impending disciplinary and administrative action unrelated to the incident of fraud or avoiding a lay off should be included in the policy to avoid ambiguities arising from the same. Monetary incentives for whistle blowing in such cases could be denoted, so that adequate alternative compensation is made available and at the same time employees do not relate their reports as recompense against action by the company.