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Whistleblowing

Have you or are you considering
blowing the whistle at work?

  • Caring and client-focused
  • Initial consultation available
  • In-house team of employment experts

The experts in whistleblowing claims

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd has a dedicated team of leading Employment law solicitors and support staff, helping clients nationwide.

We are able to offer expert advice on all potential claims you may have against your employer, in both Employment Tribunals and the Civil Courts. We work to maximise your damages whilst keeping all costs to a minimum.

What is whistleblowing?

A whistleblower is someone who reports certain types of wrongdoing or suspected wrongdoing (that is in the public interest) to their employer or relevant organisation.

Blowing the whistle at work can be a stressful time as you may feel like you have done the wrong thing, feel like you have betrayed your colleagues or manager or perhaps you have started to be treated differently since you blew the whistle.

Whatever the situation, Oakwood Solicitors has an experienced team of employment lawyers that can assist you before, during or after you have blown the whistle.

Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing – The law

Employees who are thinking about blowing the whistle on their workplace for wrongdoing or unsafe practices should be aware that protections are in place to keep them safe at work.

These regulations mean that whistleblowers should not face losing their job or being discriminated against at work for blowing the whistle.

 

By law (the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998), whistleblowers are protected from:

  • Unfair dismissal – if someone is dismissed for whistleblowing, it will be treated as an automatic unfair dismissal
  • Detriment

These protections are in place from the first day of employment and will still be in place even if you no longer work for the company.

 

But to claim protection, whistleblowers must show they:

  • Made a qualifying disclosure
  • Were dismissed or suffered a detriment as a result of making the disclosure

 

If you have blown the whistle, and as a result, you have been dismissed or suffered detriment, you may be entitled to claim against your employer.

I am considering whistleblowing at work. How do I go about it, and when should I do it?

If you reasonably believe (and it is in the public interest) that one or more of the following matters is either happening, has taken place, or is likely to happen in the future then you should report the wrongdoing or suspected wrongdoing to the relevant individual/organisation:

  • A criminal offence
  • The breach of a legal obligation
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • A danger to the health and safety of any individual
  • Damage to the environment
  • Deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above.

You may have a Staff Handbook at work which includes within it a whistleblowing policy. It is important to read this policy so that you report the wrongdoing or suspected wrongdoing to the appropriate person within the workplace. This person is generally referred to as a ‘whistleblowing officer’.

However, there may certain situations where the is no appointed internal whistleblowing officer or, it may be more appropriate to the report the wrongdoing to the relevant organisation in which the wrongdoing relates.

In some professions, employees are legally bound to blow the whistle when they become aware of wrongdoing, malpractice or unlawful conduct. This may be under a professional code of conduct including the following professions:

  • Accountants – Must report wrongdoing to the ICCA
  • Senior managers under the Senior Managers Regime – Must disclose appropriately any information of which the FCA or PRA would reasonably expect notice.
  • Solicitors – Obliged to report wrongdoing to the SRA

 

If you have any concerns in relation to blowing the whistle please contact Oakwood Solicitors for further advice.

Whistleblowing

Common types of work

You might feel the need to blow the whistle in any type of employment, but it can commonly be seen in the following professions:

  • Healthcare
  • Care homes
  • Factory Workers
  • Construction

Complaints that do not count as whistleblowing

Personal grievances are not covered by whistleblowing law unless it is in the public interest.

Whistleblowing refers to disclosing information affecting others, including the general public. But if you have suffered at work from other forms of wrongdoing, such as bullying or discrimination – you may be entitled to make a different type of claim.

Whistleblowing

Frequently Asked Questions

What rights do whistleblowers have?

Whistleblowing, also known as ‘making a protected disclosure’, is potentially a ‘protected act’ under employment law. This means that employees who are aware of unlawful activity in the workplace, and report it, should not be subjected to any detriment as a result, or dismissed due to making this disclosure.

For employees making a disclosure against their employer, it can, understandably, be a stressful process. In some cases, it can even result in the employee suffering a psychiatric injury. There is often an overlap between a whistleblowing claim in the Employment Tribunal, and a civil claim for Stress at Work.

You are not required to have a specific length of service with your employer to be protected as a whistleblower (unlike a claim for unfair dismissal for example that requires the employee to have the qualifying length of service, which is currently 2 years).

Who is protected?

Most people are protected by law if they make a qualifying disclosure. This includes:

  • An employee, such as a police officer, NHS employee, office worker, factory worker
  • A trainee, such as a student nurse
  • An agency worker
  • A member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Office holders
  • Self-employed doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists and pharmacists working in the NHS

When will you not be protected?

You will not be protected when making a qualifying disclosure if you:

  • Commit a criminal offence by disclosing the information – for example hacking into computer files
  • Breach legal professional privilege – for example if you’re a legal adviser and learn about something when giving legal advice

Have you been treated differently since you have whistleblown?

Once you have whistleblown, you could experience bullying or other detrimental repercussions very quickly.

If you have noticed any difference in the way you are treated at work or you have suffered detriment since whistleblowing please contact Oakwood Solicitors as soon as possible to see how we can help.

What advice should a potential whistleblower bear in mind?

1) Blow the whistle according to company policy

Make sure you follow the company procedure for whistleblowing. This will ensure you are raising concerns with the right person and the investigation will be flagged correctly.

You should follow this procedure to ensure that your employer can’t claim that the procedure was not followed and it was not aware of the concerns.

 

2) Keep a record of your whistleblowing

Keep a record of any evidence you have relating to your whistleblowing.

This might include any e-mails relating to your concerns, or any pictures of the dangerous activity you are reporting.

 

3) Use a regulator

If you know that your employer is already aware of the wrongdoing, and your involvement would not be welcomed, it may be best to ask an employment solicitor for advice on the best route to blow the whistle.

 

4) Don’t go to the press

Whistleblowing legislation is there to protect people who blow the whistle in the right way and for the right reasons.

If you reveal your concerns via social media or by going to the press, you may not be entitled to receive the legal protection you’ll need.

 

5) Don’t worry about confidentiality clauses

Many employers ask employees to sign non-disclosure agreements, to ensure confidentiality. But, NDA’s do not prevent you from legitimate whistleblowing.

Regardless of what you have signed, if illegal conduct is being carried out, you still have the right to blow the whistle.

However, it is advisable to seek advice from an employment solicitor if you’ve signed an NDA.

Why choose Oakwood Solicitors Ltd?

You will have a dedicated advisor who will see your claim through from start to finish, assisting you in the event of any queries or issues you may have. If it is preferable to you, we are able to assign a female advisor to carry out your claim.

Your case handler will also continue to provide regular updates until the conclusion of your claim, ensuring the process is as stress-free and effortless as possible.

Great, responsive service

Great responsive service. Having approached a number of local solicitors, they were the only ones to not only respond but also provide a solution in the timeline required.

- Satisfied client

Very prompt, efficient and polite.

It was nice to be able to speak to a real human, rather than corresponding via email which seems to be the case in so many other organisations. Well done for keeping the personal touch.

- Satisfied client

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