Many employees worry about the consequences of whistleblowing. However, employees should not be anxious about blowing the whistle if the allegation of wrongdoing is genuine. Employees who make a protected disclosure (another name for whistleblowing) are protected against detrimental treatment or dismissal because of their disclosure.
If you believe that your employer has treated you unfairly because of your whistleblowing, you can pursue a claim against them in the Employment Tribunal.
Whistleblowing occurs if a worker reports wrongdoing in the workplace. The term ‘worker’ is widely defined to includes employees, agency workers and other workers that provide theirproviding services to an organisation. You will be protected from dismissal or a detriment arising from whistleblowing if you have made a protected disclosure to an appropriate person.
A qualifying disclosure isYou should be disclosing the disclosure of information that is made in the public interest. It must show that:
- A criminal offence has been committed or is likely to be committed
- A person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation they are subject to
- A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur
- The health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered
- The environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged, or
- Information tending to show aAny matter falling within any one of the preceding criteria has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed
For the disclosure of information to be ‘protected’, you must make the disclosure to either the person responsible for the relevant failure, in other words your employer or their representative, or to an external person such as a legal adviser or government minister. A disclosure to the press or pressure group will be ‘protected’ if the disclosure is not made for personal gain and is reasonable in the circumstances.
A disclosure of information is in the ‘public interest’ if the act complained of affects the rights of a large group of people or if it materially affects the rights of a small group of people.
Your employer cannot dismiss you or treat you detrimentally because you have made a protected disclosure. Detrimental treatment may include: a reduction in your hours of work, demotion or unjustified disciplinary action.
If you have been dismissed for making a protected disclosure, you will be entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal. It is important that you are able to show that the protected disclosure resulted in your dismissal.
An allegation of wrongdoing in the workplace should be communicated to a person who is responsible for the relevant failure. This could be your employer or their representative, such as the human resources representative or your manager.
The information that you disclose must be more than a suspicion or belief. It should be information that you know or reasonably believe to be true. You must reasonably believe that this information constitutes an act of wrongdoing. If you do not make the disclosure of information in ‘good faith’, the Employment Tribunal will deduct any compensation payable to you (for unfair dismissal) by up to 25%.
Our employment lawyers can help you to identify whether your allegation of wrongdoing will qualify as a protected disclosure.
We can support you if you wish to pursue your employer following an unfair dismissal or detriment suffered as a result of a protected disclosure. Our experienced specialists can also represent you in the Employment Tribunal if you wish to bring a claim against your employer.
Call the Thorntons Employment Law team on 03330 430 350 to find out more about our services, or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you.
Depending on your case and circumstances, the first step is usually to arrange an appointment to come into one of our local offices to meet an Employment Law Solicitor to discuss your situation and the way forward. We will outline your options and, depending on your circumstances, we can look at various funding options to help with your case costs.