Whistleblowing is important for preventing further wrongdoing in the workplace. It provides opportunities for organisations to learn from their mistakes and improve their procedures and practice.
But what exactly is whistleblowing, and what does it mean for employees? Read below to find out more.
What is whistleblowing?
Employees have a duty to report misconduct or malpractice at work. If the misconduct poses a risk to colleagues or customers, it may be in the public interest to “blow the whistle” and report the harm. Whistleblowing can be vital in preventing further damage, improving procedures and helping both public and private organisations learn from mistakes.
Have you blown the whistle at work, and faced unfair treatment as a consequence? Call us free on 0808 164 0808.
These types of claims are common and often leave people unjustly pushed out their jobs for doing the right thing.
Often, this could involve a fraudulent activity, a health and safety breach or criminal behaviour. For employees to be safeguarded by the law, the disclosure made will have to meet some other conditions, such as being in the public interest.
It’s important to note your time limitations with bringing employment claims. You have three months less one day to bring a whistleblowing claim to tribunal, and this will involve contact with ACAS to begin the process with attempts for early conciliation with your employer. This could take up to 6 weeks. It’s imperative that you act fast, as soon after your first negative consequence as possible. If ACAS are unable to achieve early conciliation, we may be able to offer support depending on the circumstances.
Examples of whistleblowing
Here are two examples of whistleblowing:
- A hospital worker who reports a health and safety breach which is harmful to its staff or patients
- An accountant or financial officer reporting financial wrongdoing or malpractice, such as money missing from the accounts
What does the law say regarding whistleblowing legislation?
Whistleblowing legislation applies to both employees and workers. This means that unlike most unfair dismissal claims, the requirement for two years’ continuous service in order to bring a claim for whistleblowing is not necessary.
The admission must be made to either the employer, or to a ‘prescribed person’ outside of the organisation. This can include a regulatory body, such as the Financial Conduct Authority.
Do whistleblowers have legal protection?
To qualify for legal protection, whistleblowers must prove that the disclosure is in the public interest. This is a complex test and it is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If you speak to one of our employment experts, they may be able to advise you about whether you will have the right to claim compensation for negative consequences, which you may suffer as a result of making your whistleblowing disclosure. Contact us today.
What are the consequences of whistleblowing?
Typical consequences that may arise from you whistleblowing include:
- Your manager making unwanted changes to your role
- Your work duties being restricted or reduced
- Bullying and harassment
- Benefits and bonuses being withheld
- Hostile treatment
- Unfair accusations of poor performance
- Pressure to resign
If an employee suffers disadvantages as a result of whistleblowing, they can claim compensation for any detriment up to the point of dismissal, but injury to feelings cannot be claimed as compensation. If an employee is dismissed from their employment as a direct result of the whistleblowing, they will be entitled to claim uncapped compensation for loss of earnings.
What should I do if I have witnessed wrongdoing?
If you believe you have witnessed, or become aware of serious wrongdoing in your workplace, it is natural to assess your options before telling anyone about it.
You may be concerned about the following things:
- Have I fully understood the situation?
- Is the wrongdoing illegal or in breach of my employer’s legal duties?
- Will I be sacked if I reveal what I have seen or become aware of?
- Will it alter my position in the company?
- Will I be treated differently as a result of whistleblowing?
All of the above thoughts and feelings are completely normal. We would recommend you raise the issue early on, so that you don’t run out of time. Every employee is different, and while some may want tough action, others might prefer to adopt a peace-making approach.
It is also worth noting that depending on the industry you work in, the route you should take to blow the whistle may be different. It’s crucial that you get this right.
If you’ve already blown the whistle and have suffered negative consequences as a result, such as being dismissed, we might be able to help you with bringing a whistleblowing claim at an employment tribunal.
You shouldn’t be penalised for trying to do the right thing. If you’ve blown the whistle and are feeling victimised as a result, or you’ve witnessed misconduct and are unsure with how to proceed, get in touch with our team today or call us free on 0808 164 0808.