HR's Role in SOX Compliance: How to Build and Manage Your Ethics Hotline and Effectively Handle Complaints

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Employees aren’t afraid to blow the whistle when they suspect that their employer may be defrauding the government or the public. In fact, 34 percent of employees have witnessed or had firsthand knowledge of workplace misconduct. Another 78 percent said they would report wrongdoing if they could do so anonymously without the fear of retaliation and for a monetary award.

At many publicly traded companies, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance efforts fall under the legal and accounting departments, but in many cases, especially in smaller companies, assuring SOX compliance falls on HR.

Taking on such a task may seem overwhelming, especially when getting it wrong could mean fines and costly retaliation lawsuits, but it all starts with a well-constructed and well-managed complaint-reporting system, which includes an ethics hotline and other acceptable means for reporting alleged misconduct anonymously.

It's also crucial to have a focused approach to managing those complaints -- from ensuring the confidentiality and anonymity of the claims to conducting your own investigation into any allegations of retaliation for speaking out.

In order to stay SOX compliant, you must get up-to-date on the latest regulations and best practices for developing an effective employee complaint system.