Have you ever had a candidate approach you with concerns about what has been going on during an assignment? If you have robust contracts in place and follow proper processes and procedures then you should be the first port of call. As you know, it is always best to handle situations like these in an informal manner before escalating the matter to formal action, but sometimes the concerns raised by the candidate are such that seemingly has the ingredients for whistleblowing. If the candidate makes such a disclosure to you, since you are the organisation that arranges the candidate’s placement with a client, this may actually not be a “protected disclosure” under whistleblowing law.
In a recent employment case, a junior doctor made various disclosures to his employer regarding patient safety and repeated them to the organisation that arranged his placement with the hospital. Following the disclosures the junior doctor claimed that his speaking up had led to him suffering detriments and he brought a claim against both the hospital and the agency that placed him. The Employment Tribunal threw out his detriment claim against the agency as their relationship did not fall within the required definition of ‘worker’ in the relevant legislation.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal was equally unimpressed with the junior doctor’s subsequent arguments that not being afforded whistle-blower protection was contrary to his freedom of expression under EU law and that the domestic legislation should have been interpreted in such a way so that he was in fact a whistle-blower. This is not what the law says, what it does say is the circumstances in which legal protection of whistle-blowers apply and this was sufficient. This is not to say that making a disclosure to a third-party is outside whistleblowing law. It was just, based on these facts, that the junior doctor was outside of the category of worker and relationships protected by the law.
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