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Whistleblowing – what you need to know to protect yourself

If you have seen, overheard or found something that you feel or suspect is wrong and might be harmful to the other people you work with, then you can raise your concerns with your employer and this is called whistleblowing.

What is whistleblowing?

When you suspect wrong doing or risk to others at work and tell your employer about it. You don’t always have to have actually seen anything and any wrong doing you disclose must be in the public interest.  As a whistleblower you shouldn’t be treated unfairly or lose your job.  You can raise concerns of something happening at any time whether its in the past, present or future.

What counts as whistleblowing?

The information that you are providing is not a complaint or grievance about an individual being unfairly treated and must relate to one of six categories:

  • A criminal offence
  • Health and safety issue that could cause harm to workers
  • Risk or damage to the environment
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • Company is breaking the law, e.g. not having the right insurance
  • You believe someone is covering up any wrong doing

How does the law protect you as a whistleblower?

If you suspect the wrong doing of an individual be it another employee, supplier or even a customer or suspect there to be a risk to others at work then you can raise your concerns with your employer or  a prescribed person and be protected under the Employment rights Act 1996.

This protection will be given from being treated unfairly by dismissal or harassment because of the whistleblowing claim that you have made.

The compensation that you might receive for financial loss or injury to feelings will also be uncapped.

A confidentiality order or a gagging clause is not valid if you are a whistleblower.

Does your employer have a policy for whistleblowing?

Government bodies, listed companies and US companies are all obliged to have a whistleblowing policy.

Employers are encouraged to have a policy in place to ensure that employees feel comfortable enough to inform their employers first before going to a regulator.

Check to see if your employer has a policy before you do anything.

What to do if you think you have been treated unfairly following whistleblowing

If you believe that you have been dismissed or treatment towards you has changed due to your act of whistleblowing then you can take your case to the Employment Tribunal. You can claim within three months.

Dismissal as a result of your whistleblowing will be classed as automatically unfair and an employee will not need to have worked continuously for two years to bring such a claim to the employment tribunal.

If you reported anonymously then this will be harder to prove that being treated unfairly was due to you whistleblowing.

Making an anonymous claim

The issue with making an anonymous claim is that your employer or prescribed person might not be able to take the claim further if they have limited information and can’t obtain any more.

You can give your name and request confidentiality, which must be taken seriously and your employer should make every effort to protect your identity.

However, if you choose to go to the media then your whistleblowing rights will be lost.

At Thomas Guise we are able to offer support and assistance on all aspects of Employment Law including Whistleblowing.

For more information please email Geoffrey Ellis or phone 01527 912912

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