Employment law provides wide ranging protection for whistleblowers at work.
A whistleblower is a person who makes a disclosure about matters such as criminal offences, breaches of legal obligations and health and safety matters in the public interest. This can extend to disclosures concerning, for example, the breach of employment contracts of a group of employees.
How are whistleblowers protected?
Whistleblowers are protected from unfair dismissal (including constructive dismissal). This means that if you are dismissed or forced to resign as a result of blowing the whistle, you have been unfairly dismissed and are entitled to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Whistleblowers are also entitled to compensation if they are subjected to a detriment as a result of blowing the whistle. This could include, for example, being subjected to disciplinary action, a demotion or the loss of a benefit as a result of making a disclosure.
The level of protection afforded to whistleblowers is higher than the norm and includes the following:
- No qualifying period of employment is required to make a whistleblowing claim;
- Employment Tribunal awards are unlimited and can include awards for “injury to feelings” similar to those made in discrimination cases. There are a number of examples where whistleblowers have been awarded compensation in the hundreds of thousands of pounds;
- The protection is afforded not only to employees but also to former employees, directors, contractors, agency workers and some partners and LLP members.
How we can help
In order to achieve whistleblower protection, individuals must ensure that they make a disclosure in the public interest, that it has relevant content and has been raised in an appropriate manner. Whistleblowers will also need to consider whether to use any internal whistleblowing policy that the employer has adopted.
Our Employment lawyers are experienced in advising potential whistleblowers on these issues. We also assist whistleblowers assert their rights not to be unfairly and unlawfully treated as a consequence of having made a disclosure in the public interest.