‘Whistleblowing’ is the figurative word used for instances where an employee or worker discloses suspected occurrences of wrongdoing or malpractice within their employer organisation.
An individual who does ‘blow the whistle’ will be protected in legislation from being dismissed or suffering a detriment as a result of their disclosure and claims in this area can result in substantial compensation awards.
However, two criteria must be satisfied in order for the individual making the disclosure to receive the protections provided for in law. These are:
- the information disclosed must relate to crimes, breaches of a legal obligation, miscarriages of justice, dangers to health and safety or the environment and/or the concealing of evidence relating to any of these; and
- an employee must disclose the information in ‘good faith’. This means that the employee must not have ulterior motives for the disclosure and reasonably believe the information to be truthful (even if the information is later shown to be incorrect).
Additionally, the disclosure must be conveyed to either their employer (either directly or by using a procedure authorised by the employer for that purpose) or to another person who the employee or worker reasonably believes to be solely or mainly responsible for the relevant failure. Disclosures made to external parties may also be protected provided the disclosure is reasonable and proportionate to the seriousness of the relevant failure.
Ideally employers should have a whistleblowing policy in place which includes a procedure to follow in the event an employee or worker wishes to disclose something. Any disclosures under the policy must be appropriately investigated.
Lawspeed can advise on whistleblowing policies and procedures, just call us on 01273 236 236.