Whistleblowing is when you report suspected wrongdoing a work. Officially this is called ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’.
You can report things that aren’t right, illegal or if anyone at work is neglecting their duties, including;
- someone’s health and safety is in danger
- damage to the environment
- a criminal offence
- the company isn’t obeying the law (like not having the correct insurance)
- covering up wrongdoing
These are called ‘qualifying disclosures’.
The way you can ‘blow the whistle’ on wrongdoing depends on whether you feel you can tell your employer. You should check your employment contract or ask human resources/ personnel if the company has a whistleblowing procedure.
If you feel you can, you should contact your employer about the issue you want to report. If you can’t tell your employer, you should contact a prescribed person or body.
You can only tell the prescribed person or body if you think your employer:
- will cover it up
- would treat them unfairly if they complained
- hasn’t sorted it out even though you have already told them about the problem
You cannot be dismissed because of whistleblowing. If you are, you can claim unfair dismissal – you’ll be protected by law as long as certain criteria are met.
The following people are protected:
- agency workers
- people that are training with an employer, but not employed
- self-employed workers, if supervised or working off-site
You will be eligible for protection if you honestly think what you are reporting is true and you think you are telling the right person.
Since 25th June 2013 a new law states that a whistleblower should also believe that their disclosure is in the public interest. The new law also says that NHS workers who work under certain contractual arrangements, e.g. certain GPs and dentists, are also covered by the protections.
You are not protected from dismissal if:
- You break the law when you report something
- You found out about the wrongdoing when someone wanted legal advice
Workers who are not employees cannot claim unfair dismissal because of whistleblowing, but they do still have some protection and can make a claim based on ‘detrimental treatment’.
For free initial advice from the Hethertons’ Employment Law Team, please give us a call on 01904 528200.