Are You A Whistleblower?
Are you concerned about something at work and feel that you need to bring it into the open for the public good? What should you do and how does the law protect you?
Am I A Whistleblower?
Whistleblowing is when a worker reports suspected wrongdoing at work, relating to:
- A criminal offence;
- Breach of any legal or regulatory obligation;
- Miscarriage of justice;
- Danger to the health and safety of any individual;
- Damage to the environment; or
- The deliberate concealing of information about any of the above.
Am I Protected?
You will be protected if:
- You honestly think what you’re reporting is true;
- You think you’re telling the right person;
- You believe that your disclosure is in the public interest.
What Should I Do To Raise My Concern?
Read Your Employer’s Whistleblowing Policy
Your employer’s whistleblowing policy will provide you with guidance as to how you should raise your concern and to whom.
You should disclose as much information as you can, including relevant dates, times, what happened, who was involved and whether there were any witnesses.
Raise Your Concern As Soon As You Can
Raising your concern as early as possible can prevent an issue from becoming more serious or potentially dangerous.
Can Your Concern Be Raised Informally?
Consider whether your concern can be raised informally, possibly in your appraisal, a meeting or even during a “quiet word” with your manager. Proactive and responsible employers will consider an employee’s concerns seriously and act upon them if necessary and this can facilitate a speedy resolution.
Can The Problem Be Resolved Internally?
You should initially try and follow the internal procedure for reporting your concerns.
If you have reason to believe that the manager which you should report your concern to under your employer’s policy may be involved or you feel unable to raise it with them, you may need to go to another manager or someone else that is listed in the whistleblowing policy.
If you work for a small organisation where there are no more senior managers, then you might have no option but to report your concern to a person/organisation on the list of “prescribed persons”, like the Care Quality Commission.
What Should I Do If I Am Not Satisfied About The Way My Employer Deals With My Concern?
If you are not satisfied, then you might need to tell to a person/organisation outside of your employer’s organisation, on the list of “prescribed persons”
Reporting anything to the media should always be your last resort – particularly if what you want to report involves private or confidential information.
What Protections Does The Law Give Whistleblowers?
It is unlawful for an employer to subject you to detrimental treatment because you have made a protected disclosure.
Detrimental treatment can include:
- Disciplinary action;
- Loss of pay;
- Damage to your career prospects; and
- Exclusion from promotional opportunities.
If you believe you have suffered detrimental treatment by your employer, the time limit for submitting a claim is three months less one day from the date of the act/omission of your employer, which forms the basis of the detrimental treatment you are complaining about (subject to the rules on early conciliation).
If you are successful in an unlawful detriment claim, a Tribunal can make a declaration to this effect and award an uncapped amount of compensation, taking into account an award for injury to feelings.
If you are dismissed and the principal reason for your dismissal is because you are a whistleblower and you made a protected disclosure, then you can issue a claim for automatic unfair dismissal. Unlike an ordinary unfair dismissal claim, you do not have to have two years’ continuous service to bring a claim.
If a Tribunal finds that the principal reason for dismissal was the protected disclosure, as a matter of fact, then the dismissal will be unfair. A Tribunal will not look at whether it was reasonable in all the circumstances for your employer to dismiss you.
If you believe you have been dismissed because you made a protected disclosure, the time limit for you to submit a claim to the Tribunal is three months less one day from the date of dismissal (subject to the rules on early conciliation).
There is no cap on the amount of compensation which a Tribunal can award an employee who has been unfairly dismissed because they made a protected disclosure. Compensation can include an element for future loss as well as compensation for injury to feelings.
How Can We Help You?
If you believe you have suffered detrimental treatment by your employer, or have been dismissed because you made a protected disclosure, please contact a member of our team.