A Guide to Making a Whistleblowing Claim

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We are not currently offering Employment advice services. The following is for informational purposes only.

There may come a time in your career when you feel you need to report wrongdoing or misconduct and therefore become a whistleblower. Whistleblowing can be intimidating, with many legalities, however, AWH’s employment solicitors will provide full support, protecting your position. We have provided a guide to get you started on understanding the process of making a whistleblowing claim, but we recommend getting in touch before you start the process.

Contents

What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is when a worker reports a certain type of wrongdoing. In a workplace situation, this can be something that an employee has seen at work that they have then reported.

The wrongdoing that the employee discloses must be in the public interest. Therefore, the wrongdoing reported must affect others such as other employees or the general public.

A whistleblower is protected by law and therefore should not be treated unfairly or lose their job because of whistleblowing.

You are not restricted to a timescale when whistleblowing. You can report a concern you have that happened in the past, the present, or if you believe it will happen soon.

Who is Protected When Whistleblowing?

You are protected when whistleblowing if you’re a worker. This includes:

  • An employee, such as a police officer, NHS employee, office worker, factory worker, teacher
  • A trainee, such as a student nurse or trainee teacher
  • An agency worker
  • A member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

If you are unsure whether you are protected by law, get in contact with our employment solicitors who can further advise you.

What is the Protection Act for Whistleblowing?

Under the Employment Rights Act, it is unlawful for an employer to treat an employee unfavourably because they have made a ‘protective disclosure’. This is where they are passing on information that the employee believes shows someone in the company (such as an employer) as doing something wrong.

It is not usually enough for a disclosure to be made without disclosing information. However, if some information is disclosed it does not matter if it was already known to the recipient of the disclosure.

Protection for whistleblowing differs from that of unfair dismissal protection. Under ‘The Act’ protection against dismissal is there from your very first day of employment. Additionally, compensation is potentially unlimited depending on how much loss an individual has suffered.

What Counts as Whistleblowing?

You are protected by law if you are whistleblowing against any of the following:

  • A criminal offense such as fraud
  • Someone’s health and safety are in danger
  • Risk of damage to the environment
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • The company is breaking the law
  • You believe someone is covering up a wrongdoing

The categories above have been interpreted differently by different Courts. However, as of the 25th of June 2013, the person making the disclosure must reasonably believe that the disclosure was in the public interest. Therefore, for a qualifying disclosure to be protected, it must satisfy the following conditions. Regarding most cases, the expectation is that you should first raise the complaint with your employer. However, there might be circumstances where disclosure to other persons or agencies prescribed in ‘The Act’ may be appropriate. If an individual wants to make a disclosure to anyone else, it will only be protected if it is reasonable to do so and if certain other conditions are also met.

Additionally, a disclosure does not need to be made in good faith to be protected. However, if you are found to have made a disclosure, not in good faith, it may reduce your reward of compensation up to 25%.

Many employers will have policies in place if you are thinking about whistleblowing. The policy should be generally followed. Our employment solicitors can then assist you with the next steps to take before you proceed any further.

However, if you are raising a personal grievance, for example, bullying, harassment, or discrimination, you will not be covered by the whistleblowing law. This is unless your grievance is in the public interest. Our employment solicitors can aid you with discrimination, harassment, or unfair dismissal claim.

What to Do if You Are Thinking of Whistleblowing?

If you are thinking of whistleblowing, you can tell your employer. They may have a whistleblowing policy that will inform you of what to expect if you proceed. Even if your employer does not have a whistleblowing policy, you can still report a concern to them.

In some cases, you may not feel able or comfortable reporting a concern to your employer. If this is the case for you, there are some other routes you can take. Our employment solicitors can give you further advice on what the best route for you is. Furthermore, you can inform a prescribed person or body. This must be someone who deals with the issue you are raising, therefore if you are raising an issue as a teacher, you should raise the concern with the Teaching Regulatory Agency.

If you are thinking of whistleblowing but don’t want to attach your name to it, you can tell your employer or prescribed person anonymously. However, you should be aware that they may not be able to progress your claim if they need further information.

To avoid this happening, you can give your name but request that you remain anonymous. In this case, the person or body should make every effort to keep your identity anonymous.

It should be noted that if you report your concern to the media, in most cases, you will lose your whistleblowing law rights.

What Happens After Whistleblowing?

Once you have raised your concern, your prescribed person will listen to your concern and decide if further action is needed. During this period, you may be asked to provide further information.

You must state if you want anyone else to know it was you who raised the concern. Additionally, you will not have a say in how your concern is dealt with.

Your employer or prescribed person can keep you informed on what actions they have taken, however, they will not be able to give you lots of details if they must keep the confidence of other people.

What to Do If You’re Not Happy with the Whistleblowing Outcome?

If your concern has been raised with the line management, an alternative within the management chain or the Internal Audit and Assurance team all following the company’s whistleblowing policy and an agreeable outcome has not been reached, you may raise the concern with the Chief Executive and we recommend getting in touch with our employment solicitors.

What Happen You Are Treated Badly After Raising a Concern?

You should never be put in a position where you are treated unfavourably after raising a concern. However, if you are in a position where you feel victimized, you should raise this with your line manager. If the unfair treatment continues to a point where you feel you have no choice but to resign, you can make a constructive dismissal claim. 

Getting Legal Advice from Whistleblowing Solicitors

It’s important to take legal advice as soon as you can when whistleblowing. If you are considering raising a concern about public interest matters to your employer, or if you believe that after raising your concern nothing has improved or you have been treated worse off, we recommend you get in contact with our solicitors as soon as possible to get legal advice and protection.

When bringing a whistleblowing case to an employment solicitor, there is a strict time scale. Most claims need to be brought to the Employment Tribunal within three months less one day of the treatment you are complaining about.

If the treatment you are receiving is continuing, the claim can be brought within three months less one day from the end of the conduct.

In a dismissal case, you can bring forward a claim in three months less one day from the date employment ended.

In some rare exceptions, the Employment Tribunal can extend the time limit of the claim, but this should not be relied upon.

Filing a Whistleblowing Case with ACAS

You may also need to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Procedures. The code is designed to help resolve disputes within the workplace. If your claim is successful but you have not followed the ACAS Code of Practice, your award can be reduced up to 25%. Additionally, your employer will receive penalties if they don’t follow the code.

If you are planning to make an employment tribunal claim, you will need to inform ACAS. ACAS will offer early conciliation to try to resolve the dispute. It should be noted that the conciliation period can be up to one month. If ACAS cannot settle the claim, they will issue a certificate. This will confirm that the mandatory conciliation process has concluded.

The time within which a claim is with ACAS will not count toward your claim’s time limit. Additionally, if the time limit would usually expires during that period, or within the month after the certificate is issued, then you will have up to one month following receipt of the conciliation certificate to make a claim.

Calculating the time limits in employment tribunal cases can be complicated. Therefore, we advise you to be aware of limitation issues and seek legal advice promptly.

Whistleblowing Solicitors – Guidance and Support

All of our employment law cases are handled on a no-win, no-fee basis and we will not charge any hidden fees throughout the process.

We want to help you successfully go about your whistleblowing case, assuring that the problem has been resolved and retributions have been given. If you would like to discuss how we can help you with whistleblowing, get in touch today or request a callback.

Contact our employment solicitors today or request a call back to discuss your case. Our solicitors are regulated by the solicitors regulation authority (SRA).

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