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Whistleblowing policy and process



Tue 12 December 2023 Whistleblowing policy and process

What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the act of reporting wrongdoing, in an organisation to the relevant authorities. It can be done anonymously, but it is often more effective when the whistleblower is identified. Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by their employers, but they may still face challenges in their personal and professional lives.

What is a protected disclosure?

Under English law, a protected disclosure is a disclosure of information, either internally within the Organisation or to relevant external authorities,  that the whistleblower reasonably believes shows that one or more of the following has occurred:

The term protected disclosure means that legally the whistleblower is protected from legal repercussions from their employer.

In the UK, there is a legal obligation for employers to maintain the confidentiality of protected disclosures. This means that employers must not disclose the identity of the whistleblower or the details of the disclosure to anyone unless there is a good reason to do so, such as to investigate or remedy the wrong, without the whistleblower’s consent.

Does the whistleblower have to raise the concern with the employer before raising it externally?

No, there is no legal requirement to go to the employer first. The protected disclosure could be made to their employer, a trade union representative, a government official or regulator) or the media.

It  is often advisable for whistleblowers to go to their employer first, but in our experience, this can depend on the severity of the wrongdoing and relationship with the employer and whether the alleged wrongdoing goes right to the top of the employer business.

If in doubt, it is usually important to get experienced legal advice.

Why should employers have a Whistleblowing Policy?

Employers are not legally required to have a whistleblowing policy, but it is a good idea to have one in place. A whistleblowing policy can help to create a more open and transparent culture in the workplace, and can also protect the organisation from legal liability.

A whistleblowing policy should be clear, understandable, and relevant to the business and sector. It should include the following information:

Whistleblowing process

The employer should take all reasonable steps to investigate the disclosure promptly and thoroughly. They should also take appropriate action to deal with the matter, which could include taking action against the person who committed the wrongdoing, providing support to the worker, or changing the workplace practices that led to the wrongdoing.

When a whistleblower makes a disclosure, it is important to take it seriously and to investigate the matter promptly. The whistleblower should be kept informed of the progress of the investigation, and they should be protected from legal repercussions.


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