“Whistleblowing” is the practice of exposing wrongdoing or corruption in the workplace. More formally, people who whistleblow are said to have made a disclosure in the public interest. Obviously, it is in the interests of the law to protect people who make such disclosures from repercussions.
Whistleblowers are protected provided that:
The categories of disclosure which are protected are disclosures relating to:
For the disclosure to be protected, it must be made:
Honestly. The whistleblower must reasonably believe that the information they are disclosing is substantially true.
To the right person. The whistleblower must reasonably believe that they are disclosing the information to the right person, known as the ‘prescribed person’.
A whistleblower should, in the first instance, make the disclosure to their employer. If this is not possible, they should seek out the correct ‘prescribed person’. It may be necessary to take legal advice to find out who the correct person is.
If an employee suffers as a result of a protected disclosure, e.g. they are dismissed, disciplined, demoted, victimised or otherwise treated unfavourably, then they may be able to make a claim against their employer.
As from June 2013, an employer may also be vicariously liable where any of its employees treat a whistleblower less favourably because they have made a disclosure, even if the employer is not directly responsible for that less favourable treatment.
To succeed in such a claim, the employment tribunal must be persuaded that the whistleblower has complied with all of the requirements as are set out above regarding the nature of the disclosure, ensuring it is made in good faith and ensuring that it is made to the right person.