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JAN 12, 2018 | UNITED KINGDOM

UK SME Workers Most Likely in Europe to Blow Whistle on Bad Business Practice

Survey finds that while UK workers are most likely to report malpractice, they are also the most likely to want a reward.

18th December – London, UK: New data from BSA | The Software Alliance reveals UK employees in small businesses are more likely than other European workers to shop their boss for illegal or unethical practices. The research shows that 82% of UK employees have reported something in the past, or would be willing to do so; almost 10% higher than the European average (74%).

More than one-in-ten (13%) SME workers in the UK say they are aware of illegal or unethical practices taking place in their organisations right now – similar to the rest of Europe where 15% of workers are aware.

The survey questioned over 12,000 SME workers across the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland and France, about business ethics. It reveals that UK workers are the most likely to blow the whistle on their company for a financial reward, with 25% saying they would want payment in return for reporting malpractice.

Some figures from the rest of the continent are lower. For example, only 9% of Spanish workers say they would take the reward, with 25% revealing they would just report illegal practices because it’s the right thing to. German workers are the least willing to file a report, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they would never report improper business practice, compared to only 7% in the UK.

When asked what scenarios would compel them to make a report, nearly three-quarters (73%) of UK workers cited bullying or discrimination, followed by fraud (70%), theft of company property (61%), embezzlement (58%) and failure to meet industry regulations (44%).

This compares to lower results across Europe, with 66% of workers listing bullying or discrimination, followed by fraud (60%), theft of company property (56%), embezzlement (54%), tax evasion (47%) and failure to meet industry regulations (40%).

In addition, more than a third (34%) of employees across Europe state that they would report illegal or unethical IT practices in the workplace, such as the use of unlicensed or counterfeit software. In the UK, this jumps to 38%. Over one-in-ten workers across Europe (12%) suspect their employer is currently guilty of illegal or unethical IT practices.

BSA encourages people to blow the whistle on unlicensed software use in the workplace by offering financial rewards. Whistleblowing is on the rise - it saw the number of whistleblower reports in the UK increase from 290 in 2015 to already 450 in 2017. This cost UK businesses over £900,000 in legalisation fees and damages. In 2017, an engineering company in the UK paid out £21,000 for using unlicensed BSA member software. Unplanned costs of this size can be damaging to the financial health of a small business, so it’s important they do everything they can to ensure their organisation isn’t at risk.

Sarah Coombes, Managing Director Compliance and Enforcement at BSA EMEA, comments, “With UK employees more likely to shop their bosses than their European counterparts, SMEs should make sure they have their house in order and aren’t putting themselves at risk of serious reputational or financial damage. Whether that’s by reviewing all their IT practices or having an overhaul of their business processes, the results of our survey show that the time to act is now.”

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Notes to editors

This research was carried out by Opinium from 16th February 2016 to 24th April 2017. The research questioned 12,030 SME office workers in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and UK (between 1-249 employees).

About BSA | The Software Alliance

BSA | The Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 60 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.  

ABOUT BSA

BSA | The Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life.

With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 30 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.

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