Most U.K. staff would turn in pirate bosses

Almost half of U.K. employees have suffered from exposure to "illegal or inappropriate activities" at work - including being asked to use pirated software, according to new research.

According to a YouGov survey commissioned by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), wrong-doers might not get away with their misdeeds for long, as Britons are more likely than ever to act on their social consciences and report activities such as fraud, theft and exploitation.

One in three employees said they are more likely to report illegal or inappropriate activity than they would have been three years ago, compared to just 10 percent who feel the opposite way. Disgruntled workers are even more likely to report illegal goings-on, with 65 percent of respondents saying they would consider reporting their company if they felt their employer treated them unfairly. More than one in four said that large salary raises for the board or poor salary reviews for staff could spur them to act.

The research found that 42 percent of respondents felt that if their customers knew they were using illegal software, they would be less inclined to do business with them.

Nearly a third of respondents claimed that they would report cases of illegal software use, which can result in penalties such as imprisonment, fines and the confiscation of assets for the negligent company. This is approximately the same percentage as would report tax evasion (34 percent). Over 40 percent felt that if their customers knew they were using illegal software, the customers would be less inclined to do business with them.

"Employees are often concerned that reporting malpractice in the workplace could impact negatively on their careers," said Siobhan Carroll, regional manager for Northern Europe at BSA. "While we would encourage employees to speak to their managers if possible, we have found that our initiative at the BSA, which allows informants to disclose details of illegal software use anonymously, does encourage people to come forward with information."

"Good management and governance extends to businesses of all sizes and in all aspects of the business so it wise to make sure your house is in order," Carroll added.

BSA claimed that this growing trend of a more ethical outlook in the workplace is supported by PCaW (Public Concern at Work), an authority on public interest whistleblowing, which has seen a 25-percent increase in 2005 in calls to their helpline from workers worried about malpractice at work.

Kirsten Trott, deputy director of PCaW, said "We see that businesses are increasingly keen to promote an ethical working environment and in our experience, most employers welcome their staff raising concerns directly with them."

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