What Legal Protection Do Whistleblowers Have?
Whistleblowers are the name given to those who make a disclosure in the public interest in order to identify any risks to people’s safety. Whistleblowing is recognised by employers, employees and trade unions, as well as the general public.
What Does the Term Whistleblowing Mean?
The definition of whistleblowing is when a ‘worker’ discloses information of any wrongdoings or concerns they have witnessed at work. This can be an incident that has happened previously, currently or is likely to happen in the future and it has to be information that is in the public’s interest.
Blowing the whistle is not a cause for termination of contract or any sort of penalisation as you are protected by law. Some employers have also developed internal whistleblowing procedures and policies which may protect you too.
What Types of Issues Can Be Raised Under the Whistleblowing Policy?
You are only protected by law if you blow the whistle and disclose certain issues. For example, you will not be protected if you report personal grievances like bullying, harassment or discrimination – unless it is in the public’s interest.
Examples of Whistleblowing
- Any individual criminal offence or failure to comply with a legal obligation
- Miscarriage of justice
- The company is breaking the law e.g., incorrect insurance cover
- Threats to the health and safety of others
- Someone is being deceptive and deliberately covering up a wrongdoing
- A risk or damage to the environment
Who is Protected by Law?
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 provides legal protection for whistleblowers and made amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996 to protect them from dismissal or discrimination by employers.
You are protected if you are a ‘worker’ which refers to individuals who are employed, agency workers, and the unemployed who are in training with employers. As well as this, you are also protected if you are revealing the right type of information (“qualifying disclosure”) and revealing it to the right person in the right way (“protected disclosure”).
What is Qualifying Disclosure?
Qualifying disclosure is when the information you are disclosing represents malpractice happening in the workplace now, then or in the future. This must be in the public’s interest and affect other people; if you make this disclosure in bad faith, you can reduce an award for compensation by up to 25%. You must also:
- Make the disclosure in the public interest
- Reasonably believe that the information is substantially true
What is Protected Disclosure?
Protected disclosure is when the information is disclosed to the right person in the right way. This will be to your employer, through employer whistleblowing procedures, the person who is responsible for the area you’re concerned about, or to the individual responsible for the issue you’re concerned about. The list of prescribed persons is available here.
Employment Law Services from Caversham Solicitors
If you are unsure of your rights as a whistleblower and would like to seek professional advice before progressing with your information, Caversham Solicitors are here to help. Our Employment Law Department will look into your specific practices and your claim to understand and recognise your requirements, then advise you accordingly.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.