Whistleblowing in the workplace

The law protects whistle blowers whose employer dismisses them or subjects them to any disadvantage because they have made a protected disclosure. Whistleblowing is effectively reporting any wrongdoing at work that amounts to a breach of a legal obligation.
Recently, a junior doctor won a landmark legal victory when it was held that he could bring a claim against Health Education England (the statutory body responsible for education, training and workforce planning for all NHS staff in England) despite the fact that his employment contract was not with HEE but with the relevant NHS trust. Judges were prepared to read words into the whistleblowing legislation to maximise the protection available for the doctor who brought the claim and others in his position.
But what does this mean for employers?  The key point is that it is possible for an individual to have two employers for the purposes of whistleblowing protection.  In an agency situation, this could result in the introducer and the end user both being subject to the whistleblowing provisions.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills published some guidance for employers last year, recommending that:

  • the working environment is open and transparent;
  • there is an up to date whistleblowing policy in place;
  • the policy is well publicised amongst staff.

If regulated properly, employers can support a whistleblowing culture and ensure they’re well-equipped to deal with a whistleblowing incident – so that if the whistle is blown, no one gets caught out by the sound.
If you think you need help with pulling together or updating your approach to whistleblowing or your whistleblowing policy, get in touch.