Workers have the right to make ‘protected disclosures’ without being dismissed or subjected to a detriment. However, you might still be worried about the consequences for you, your employer and your career. Having the support of the specialist team of employment solicitors at Anderton Law can be invaluable at such times.
What Is Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is the term used when a worker reports information about improper practice or wrongdoing. This is referred to as 'blowing the whistle', or more formally ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’.
Who Is Protected?
- Employees (working under a contract of employment)
- Workers (those who work or worked under a contract of employment or any other contract where they undertake to do or perform personally any work or services for another party who is are not a client or customer of any business carried on by the worker)
The categories of workers that are protected is broad, they include freelancers, members of limited liability partnerships and agency workers.
What Is a Protected Disclosure?
You will qualify for protection if you have a ‘reasonable belief’ that a wrongdoing has occurred. You are protected if you report any of the following:
- a criminal offence
- a danger to someone’s health and safety
- a miscarriage of justice
- a risk of or actual damage to the environment
- a deliberate concealment of wrongdoing
- a company is breaking the law.
Public Interest Test:
Whether or not the disclosure is considered by the tribunal to be in the public interest is based on the following factors:
- The number of individuals whose interests the disclosure served;
- The nature of the wrongdoing disclosed – if something is deliberately wrong this is more likely to meet the public interest disclosure than if it was done with a benign motive;
- The nature of the interests affected and the extent to which they were affected by the wrongdoing;
- The alleged identity of the wrongdoer;
- Larger organisations will be expected to be more stringent when dealing with whistle-blowing;
- The individual who is making the protected disclosure has to have a reasonable belief that their complaint is in the public interest however a degree of flexibility over this and it need not be the only predominant reason in the whistle-blower’s mind as to why they are making the complaint.
Workers and employees are protected from dismissal if they make a protected disclosure. There is no length of service requirement.
Example: If a worker complained of a serious breach of Health & Safety that was in the public interest on the first day of their employment and they were dismissed because of it, they would be able to bring an automatically unfair whistle-blowing claim.
This is a separate right, independent of the right not to be unfairly dismissed.
If a worker is subjected to any detriment whatsoever because they made a protected disclosure then they can claim that they have suffered a detriment.
It is possible to claim injury to feelings for any hurt and emotional suffering that the worker has endured as a result of the wrongdoing.
Example: If an employee makes a whistle-blowing complaint and then suffers a long campaign of bullying or harassment that leads them to suffer stress, it is possible to claim injury to feelings in accordance with the Vento Guidelines.
Contact Our Whistleblowing Lawyers
It is highly recommended that you seek early advice if you believe you have a whistleblowing claim. Speak to one of our whistleblowing solicitors today by calling 0151 541 7766 or complete our online enquiry form.