Whistleblowers to get better rewards

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China’s top emergency watchdog plans to boost rewards for whistleblowers who call out safety problems in their companies as the nation wages a three-year campaign to root out workplace hazards.

The reward for a single whistleblower could be over 300,000 yuan ($42,000), and measures to protect them will be enhanced, according to a draft guideline released by the Ministry of Emergency Management last week.

Currently, whistleblowers are eligible for rewards of 15 percent of the administrative fines imposed for safety hazards or illegal production activities they report.

The minimum reward, payable to both whistleblowers and members of the public who report a breach, is 3,000 yuan, and the maximum 300,000 yuan, with the amount to be paid once the safety breach they report is verified.

The recent draft guideline said the rewards given to whistleblowers will be increased, though no percentage will be set at the national level on how much more they should get. Provincial-level emergency management and finance authorities will be authorized to decide the percentage based on local conditions.

It also said additional “special rewards” will be offered if casualties are avoided thanks to the actions of whistleblowers, adding that rewards should be included in local governments’ budgets.

While making the personal information of whistleblowers confidential and strictly controlling access to it, the draft guideline also vows to crack down on companies who take revenge on them.

The initiative will be of great significance in helping curb major accidents, the ministry said in a news release.

“The reports from inside whistleblowers can be detailed and accurate with high credibility, which could help supervisory authorities find illegal activities in a timely manner and carry out law enforcement in a precise manner,” it said.

It also said that because whistleblowers risk retaliation, “ample rewards” and strict protection of their rights and interests could encourage more insiders to report breaches.

The draft guideline was unveiled as the nation continues a three-year campaign to “remove safety hazards at the root” and effectively curb major workplace accidents.

Launched by the Work Safety Committee of the State Council, the country’s Cabinet, in April, the campaign will cover nine major sectors, including coal mines, hazardous chemicals, industrial parks and urban construction.

While promoting awareness of work safety, efforts will also be made to further improve the country’s safety management mechanism to clarify the responsibilities of local governments, supervising authorities and enterprises.

The campaign also vows to establish public risk control and screening systems for hazards while introducing more laws, regulations and compulsory work safety standards, as well as revising current ones.

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