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What is whistleblowing?

A whistleblower is one who brings to light any sort of information or activities which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work.

There are laws in place to protect people that effectively blow the whistle from retaliation by their employers if they make a protected disclosure. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 outlines the circumstances as to how a disclosure of malpractice or wrongdoing will be protected.

The whistleblower should raise a genuine concern and it should be made in the public interest. Where the disclosure is made in bad faith, a tribunal may reduce any compensation by up to 25%.

Examples of the types of malpractice covered by the act include:

  • Criminal offences
  • Breach of company policy/rules, law and regulation
  • Non-compliance with the law
  • Danger to health and safety
  • Threat to national security or the public interest
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • Fraud and corruption
  • Environmental damage

People who decide to whistleblow can choose either to bring the allegations or information forward internally or externally.

Internally

The concern can be raised by the whistleblower with the designated person at work and there should be a policy in place outlining the procedure which will be followed on a confidential basis.

Externally

The concern can be brought to light by the whistleblower getting in contact with an external third party, such as a regulator. The whistleblower also has the option to get in touch with external sources such as the media, law enforcement or government but will face firm retaliation from the accused.

Where false allegations are made maliciously, for personal gain or otherwise, the whistleblower could be subject to disciplinary action and will not be protected by the Act.

If you have made a protected disclosure and feel you have suffered any detriment as a result (e.g disciplinary action or ostracisation from colleagues), you have the option to complain to a employment tribunal but normally before doing so you should use your employers grievance procedures to make a complaint and seek help from your union if you are a member of one. If you are proposing to issue proceedings at an employment tribunal, there are strict time limits to do.

If you would like any help or information on whistleblowing or would like any other advice, please telephone us on 01159 985245