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Whistleblowing

A worker who has made a protected disclosure is protected from dismissal or other “detriment”. This is commonly known as whistleblowing.

To be protected, there must be a disclosure of information (i.e. not just a mere allegation) that the worker reasonably believes is in the public interest and shows either

  • A criminal offence has been, is being or is likely to be committed
  • A person (or company) has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation
  • A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur
  • The health and safety of an individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered
  • The environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged
  • Or information tending to show one of the above has been, is being or is likely to be concealed

Disclosures can be protected if they are made to an employer, other responsible person, legal advisor, prescribed person (e.g. the HSE) and in some circumstances other external people or organisations.

If you believe that you have been dismissed or subjected to a detriment because you are a whistleblower our whistleblowing lawyers can

We know that money will be tight if you have lost your job because of whistleblowing. We therefore offer no win no fee agreements to bring Employment Tribunal claims in suitable cases and also identify whether you might be able to use existing legal expenses insurance to pay your legal fees.

Our employment lawyers are based in our London office but can also see you at our Watford Office.

Contact us on 020 7935 3522, lt@freemanssolicitors.net or using the contact form

FAQs about Whistleblowing

What is whistleblowing?

To qualify for protection, a whistleblower must disclose information (i.e. not merely make an allegation) that in his/her reasonable belief is in the public interest and tends to show either that

  • A criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed
  • A person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation
  • A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur
  • The health and safety of an individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered
  • The environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged
  • Or that information tending to show any of the above has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.

Can I be fired for whistleblowing?

A dismissal is automatically unfair if the reason, or principal reason, is that the employee made a protected disclosure. All employees are protected from dismissal no matter how long they have been employed.

Who does whistleblowing legislation protect?

Any worker is protected from detriment on the ground s/he made a protected disclosure. A detriment might include demotion, a warning or harassment from other colleagues (for which an employer is vicariously liable). Employees are protected from dismissal if the principal reason for dismissal was that s/he made a protected disclosure. Workers can include casual staff and some contractors who are otherwise treated as self-employed. A member of an LLP was found to be a worker for the purposes of whistleblowing legislation.

Am I protected if I whistleblow for other reasons?

The motivation of a whistleblower is no longer relevant to whether or not a disclosure is a protected disclosure, though disclosures made in bad faith can result in reductions to compensation. Whistleblowing for personal gain can still result in protection provided that you reasonably believed that the disclosure was in the public interest and it is made to your employer, in the course of obtaining legal advice or to a prescribed person. A salesman who whistleblew about accounting irregularities affecting his commission was found to be protected.

Is there a qualifying period for whistleblowing claims?

There is no need for qualifying service for a worker to be protected by whistleblowing legislation: an employee dismissed on day 1 will be unfairly dismissed if the principal reason was that s/he made a protected disclosure.

Am I protected if I breach confidentiality?

Whistleblowing outside the employer organisation still attracts protection from victimisation if

  • It is to the person who has legal responsibility for the conduct about which the disclosure is made
  • It is made in the course of obtaining legal advice
  • It is to a “prescribed person” (i.e. relevant regulator)
  • Or the worker has already made a disclosure to the employer or a prescribed person or reasonably believes disclosure to his/her employer will result in a detriment or evidence being be destroyed, the disclosure is not made for personal gain and it is considered reasonable to disclose to that person. In this latter case, breach of confidentiality is a factor to be considered when deciding whether it is reasonable to disclose in the circumstances.