Employment law, Newbury, Berkshire.

Clear Whistleblowing Procedure

In the United Kingdom, workers and employers are entitled to specific safeguards when they raise concerns about their employer's or a third party's actions in the public interest. Encouraging employees to make such disclosures through a clear procedure and assuring them of protection can be invaluable for businesses. It is equally crucial to establish clarity across the organization on how to address whistleblowing issues effectively. Having a well-defined whistleblowing policy is critical to ensure a consistent, compliant, and efficient approach to handling such matters.

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A whistleblower is an individual who reports certain types of wrongdoing, typically involving dangerous or illegal activities witnessed in the workplace. This reporting may involve informing senior management or relevant industry authorities about the misconduct.

Whistleblowing refers to making disclosures in the public interest. For instance, a worker may report a criminal offense, a health and safety concern, a miscarriage of justice, environmental risks or damage, non-compliance with legal obligations, or attempts to cover up any of these issues. The event could be in the past, ongoing, or anticipated, but the whistleblower must have a reasonable belief in the accuracy of their claims.

For a disclosure to qualify as whistleblowing under the Employment Rights Act, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a "qualifying disclosure."
  • Be made "in the public interest."
  • Be reported to an appropriate or prescribed person or body, resulting in a "protected disclosure."

The law offers protection against detrimental treatment for whistleblowers through the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA). If a whistleblower faces victimization or unfair treatment, they can seek redress through an employment tribunal. Dismissal under these circumstances is considered automatically unfair, and there is no limit to the compensation awarded (though it can be reduced by up to 25% for bad faith disclosures).

To be protected under the ERA 1996, the whistleblower must act in good faith and have reasonable grounds to believe that the information disclosed indicates the existence of a qualifying problem. The whistleblower must follow the correct reporting procedure and notify the right person to gain

Workers can report concerns of malpractice at any time. It is advisable to follow any procedures outlined by the employer, often found in employment contracts or grievance procedures. Whistleblowers may report directly to their employer or, if they are uncomfortable doing so, to a prescribed person or body.

The absence of a written whistleblowing policy does not prevent a worker from making a protected disclosure. Clauses in employment contracts or settlement agreements that attempt to prevent whistleblowing are void.

Once a complaint is made, the employer or prescribed person investigates and decides on appropriate action. Whistleblowers may be informed of the progress while ensuring confidentiality and data protection for others. If unsatisfied with the response, the whistleblower may report the matter to another appropriate person to remain protected.

Employers must not treat whistleblowers differently following a protected disclosure. However, this protection only applies to actions taken in response to the disclosure, not for unrelated misconduct or poor performance.

In summary, the law on whistleblowing in the UK exists to protect those who raise concerns in the public interest. Establishing clear procedures and policies can encourage employees to come forward without fear of repercussions, ultimately benefiting both workers and employers.

Recent Work

Age Discrimination

Acting for a GP practice accused of age discrimination (as well as unfair dismissal and whistleblowing). At the end of a 2 week trial, our client was completely exonerated and was even awarded their costs against the employee.

Race Discrimination

Acting for a large company with sites all over the country replacing tyres, when one tyre fitter accused others of race discrimination. The accusations included particularly offensive language and although it was accepted that the particular words were used, this was not deemed to be discrimination.

Disability Discrimination

Defending a company accused of disability discrimination because the employee (dismissed for making fraudulent expenses claims) said she lost her job because of her sickness absence caused by endometriosis (inflammation of the womb lining). The individual withdrew her claim before the final hearing with no settlement or compensation.

Sick Leave

We commonly advise employers who have employees with significant sick leave caused by stress, anxiety and/or depression.

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