Whistle-blower’s claims lead to £48,500 of software recoveries at Scottish employment agency

FAST urges people to report software misuse

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) is urging employees who have real concerns over the misuse of software in the working environment, to report it. This call to action follows recent research from the charity Public Concern at Work, which found that three out of four whistle-blowers, who raise concerns with their line managers, have their claims ignored.

Alex Hilton, CEO, FAST, stated: “All too often we come across cases where an individual has repeatedly raised the issue internally and got nowhere. More often than not that person then waits until after they have left, then they report it for software misuse. This was the recent case with a company based in Glasgow, MyKey Global.

“The former employee made the allegation via our website, having initially raised the issue of under-licensing with the IT director, who acknowledged that the software was unlicensed. Despite this, no action was taken. At the time, the employee felt that their claim of wrongdoing was being ignored, so they contacted us.”

It took some months of letter writing and calls to galvanise the management team into action. However, a complete software audit was eventually conducted following the agreement of a newly appointed IT manager. Following a comprehensive audit, the company did purchase new licenses to the tune of some £48,500 including MS Office Professional Plus, MS Coral CAL client access and MS Windows upgrade licenses.

“The challenge we are confronted with as an enforcement body is that many employees feel that they could face being ostracised, victimised or even sacked for reporting misconduct. This is simply not the case as the UK has one of the strongest whistle-blowing regimes in the world. So we are urging people to report misuse via our website or hotline. We can then take any allegations forward,” concluded Alex Hilton.

The research was conducted by the charity Public Concern at Work who worked with academics from the work and employment relations unit at Greenwich University to examine the case files of 1,000 workers who had approached the charity in the 2009/10 timeframe.

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