Whistleblowing: Reporting wrongdoing in the workplace

Caragh Bailey
13/10/2020
whistleblowing advice from employment law friend

Frequently Asked Questions
This means whistleblowing which is in the public interest, it keeps people and the environment safe and holds employers to the law.
You may find the process quite stressful. It is illegal for your employer to fire you for it, but you may find that your work atmosphere becomes less pleasant, and that internal promotions pass you by. Mistreatment of whistleblowers is illegal too, but can be harder to prove at tribunal.
There is no reward for whistleblowing in the UK. If you are mistreated by your employers as a result, you may receive compensation if you win a claim against your employers at the employment tribunal.

What is whistleblowing in the workplace?

Whistleblowing in the workplace is the reporting of wrongdoing, in the interest of the general public.

Whistleblower protection

If you report your case to the media, in most cases, you will lose your rights to whistleblower protection.

You are protected by the law (public interest disclosure act 1998) if you are:
  • a worker
  • an employee
  • an agency worker
  • a trainee
  • a member of an LLP
Not sure if that’s you? Ask Citizens’ Advice.

Whistleblower examples.

You are protected by law if you believe any of these have happened, are happening, or are about to happen.
  • Criminal offence
  • Breach of legal obligation
  • Fraud
  • Danger to someone’s health and safety
  • Risk to the environment
  • Damage to the environment
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • The company is breaking the law
  • The company does not have the proper type of insurance
  • You believe someone is covering up any of the wrongdoing listed above

  • You aren’t protected by law for personal grievances at work, unless disclosing them would be in the public interest. For example, harassment, bullying and discrimination are personal grievances. However, if you are raising a grievance of harassment at work against a person with public power, or access to vulnerable people, disclosing this would be in the public interest, as there is a danger to someone’s health and safety.

If you have a grievance which is not in the public interest, Click here to read about raising a grievance.

If you have made a settlement agreement with a gagging clause (confidentiality clause) you can still blow the whistle. If the wrongdoing you need to report falls into one of the categories protected by law, and is in the public interest, you can break the gagging clause to disclose it as a whistleblower.

Whistleblowing process

Click here for the whistleblowing process for Northern Ireland.


Do whistleblowers remain anonymous?

If you make your disclosure anonymously the person receiving it may not be able to take the claim further without being able to contact you for more information.

If you are concerned that your employer would mistreat you, make your whistleblowing disclosure to a prescribed body or person instead. You can give your name but request confidentiality. The person or body should protect your identity every way they can.

Thinking of blowing the whistle?
Not all employers appreciate being told when they’re doing something wrong. If you are concerned about the backlash of taking them on legally, contact us and one of our solicitors can review your case for free and tell you whether you should consider hiring legal representation.

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support


    2
    The person who you have reported wrongdoing to will listen to your concern and ask you for further information if necessary. They will decide whether any action is needed.
    • Tell them immediately if you would like to remain anonymous.
    • You have no say in how the issue is dealt with.
    • They can keep you informed regarding any action that is taken but they will have to honour the confidentiality of the other people involved.
    • Your prescribed person cannot help you with your relationship with your employer.

      3
      If you are unhappy with how your employer has handled your whistleblowing concern, or if you believe the wrongdoing is still happening or likely to happen, you can report it again, to a prescribed person or body

    Are you being mistreated or dismissed as a result of whistleblowing?
    If you are being mistreated because of blowing the whistle, you can resign on grounds of constructive dismissal.

    If you have been fired as a result of blowing the whistle, this is automatic unfair dismissal.

    You can take either case to the employment tribunal but you will need to prove:
    • That you made the disclosure
    • That you followed the correct procedure
    • That your mistreatment or dismissal was as a result of making the disclosure

    Thinking of blowing the whistle?
    Not all employers appreciate being told when they’re doing something wrong. If you are concerned about the backlash of taking them on legally, contact us and one of our solicitors can review your case for free and tell you whether you should consider hiring legal representation.

    Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support


    This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
 
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