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Legal Updates

Qualifying Disclosure

29 October 2010 #Employment

Under the whistle-blowing rules, an employee is protected from being subjected to a detriment or being unfairly dismissed for making a protected disclosure.  However, what disclosures can qualify for protection? Section 43B(1) ERA sets out 6 categories of subject matter about which a protected disclosure can be made.

Easwaran -v- St George`s University of London, looked at the detrimental treatment that an employee claimed he had received as a result of making a protected disclosure.  This case usefully sets out guidance for assessing what constitutes a qualifying disclosure. 

The Claimant had a dispute with a colleague regarding a window being left open in the room where they both worked.  The Claimant alleged that he was in danger of contracting pneumonia - the Claimant was a doctor.  Senior management was subsequently advised of the dispute and the Claimant wrote a letter to them stating that the windows being left open was detrimental to his heath and to the health of others.

Was the letter classed as a protected disclosure?  The Tribunal held that it was not.

The EAT looked at 3 essential questions arising under section 43B of ERA to establish a protected disclosure:

  • Did the Claimant disclose information?
  • Did the Claimant believe the information disclosed showed one of the factors specified in s.43B?
  • Was that belief reasonable?

The letter did disclose information to senior management and the EAT was able to find that the employee believed that his employers were in breach of a legal obligation.  However, the EAT held that not only was it wrong that the employee`s belief that the working conditions could cause pneumonia, it was also unreasonable.   The Tribunal`s decision was upheld.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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