Clarkslegal LLP - Solicitors in Reading and London



What is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is a worker who reports certain types of wrongdoing, usually be something they have seen at work (though that may not always be the case), either to you or to someone else, perhaps a trade organisation or even the press.

The wrongdoing the whistleblower discloses must be seen to be in the public interest. Which means it must in some way affect others, e.g. the general public.

Are whistleblowers protected by law?

Yes, they are and what is more they shouldn’t be treated unfairly or lose their job because they have ‘blown the whistle’.

A whistleblower must be free to raise their concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or they believe will happen in the near future. Many employers have a whistleblowing procedure, which allows workers to report concerns anonymously if they wish. Contact us if you would like to chat about your whistleblowing procedure or if you think it’s time for you to put one in place!

Who is protected by law?

Individuals are protected if they are a worker such as:

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

Complaints that count as whistleblowing

An individual is protected by law if they report any of the following:

  • a criminal offence, eg fraud
  • someone’s health and safety is in danger
  • risk or actual damage to the environment e.g. chemical spills
  • a miscarriage of justice
  • the company is breaking the law, eg doesn’t have the right insurance
  • they believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

Complaints that don’t count as whistleblowing

Personal grievances (eg bullying, harassment, discrimination) aren’t covered by whistleblowing law, unless the individual’s complaint is in the public interest.

These must be reported under your grievance policy.

The go to claim, why should it bother me?

Whistleblowing is often referred to as the “go to claim” but why?

Experience tells us that some employees use whistleblowing as a sort of smokescreen.  For example, they may resign claiming that they were being bullied or harassed because they had blown the whistle.

Why would they do this?

The answer might well be “constructive unfair dismissal”. The whistleblower alleges that your behaviour toward them since they “blew the whistle” has become hostile i.e. you are bullying them or harassing them and this behaviour amounts to a breach of the implied terns of trust and confidence which means that they are free to bring the contract of employment to an immediate end.

It is worth knowing that a contract, including one of employment, that is brought to an end because of a breach means that none of its terms and conditions are enforceable and that includes any post termination restrictions!

This leaves the ex-employee free to seek employment with whomever they choose, perhaps one of your competitors?

So now you can see why it is referred to as the go to claim. Free to leave immediately, unencumbered by the worry of PTRs of any kind.