AM I A WHISTLEBLOWER?
LUKE HUTCHINGS >
PartnerTue 29 March 2016
Employees who are singled out for reporting wrongdoing within the workplace should be aware that it is likely they are covered from detrimental treatment by a law which protects the rights of “whistleblowers.”
A “whistleblower” is someone who, for the purposes of this law, makes a disclosure of information to the employer or a relevant organisation (such as HMRC) in the public interest where they reasonably believe one of the following has happened, is happening now, or is likely to happen:
- A criminal offence
- The breach of a legal obligation
- A miscarriage of justice
- A danger to the health and safety of any individual
- Damage to the environment
- An attempt to conceal any of the above
If the employer dismisses an employee for blowing the whistle, it is very likely that dismissal will be unfair. The employer also cannot treat the employee detrimentally by virtue of the whistle being blown. In those cases, the employee can “stand and sue” whilst they are still in employment – though obviously this can make life quite difficult for the poor employee!
It used to be a requirement that such disclosures had to be made in good faith. This requirement has now been removed, but an employee who blows the whistle on their employer out of malice, can see their compensation reduced by up to a quarter if they are then successful in the Employment Tribunal.
Whistleblowing damages are potentially unlimited and whistleblowers are protected from day one of their employment, therefore they do not need the two years’ employment needed before the Tribunal can listen to a claim they might make. This two year period is required for many other types of employment claim.
Luke Hutchings, Head of Employment at Taylor Rose TTKW, says “with every passing month we hear of whistleblowers being penalised, particularly in the NHS, when the law exists to protect them. The Public Interest Disclosure Act was specifically created to permit the disclosure of what might be quite shocking information - which may not show some employers in a very good light, but who should be exposed in the public interest. Really some of these employees are very brave to risk their careers and report what they see as wrongdoing at work.”
If you have raised issues of wrongdoing with your employer, or externally to a prescribed organisation, and you feel you are suffering as a result, please get in touch today.
Luke would be happy to discuss this with you further. Call us on 01733 333 333 for a no-obligation chat.
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