Ignore Whistleblowing at your peril
To bring a Whistleblowing claim an employee does not need 2 years continuous service. It is a day one right both employees and workers can bring a claim.
Cases involving automatic unfair dismissal due to whistleblowing are increasingly being brought to tribunals by employees who otherwise would not have sufficient service to bring an unfair dismissal claim
An employee or a worker is a whistleblower if they make a disclosure which is:
about a criminal offence, breach of a legal obligation, miscarriage of justice, risk to health and safety or to the environment (or a cover-up of any of these); and
in the public interest; and made to their employer or legal adviser or relevant regulator.
Whistleblowers who suffer detriment or dismissal for having blown the whistle can claim uncapped compensation for their financial loss. They can also claim interim relief which, if granted, means that their salary continues to be paid by their employer up to the date of the hearing. Given that claims can take up to 2 years before being heard this can be expensive for employers Claims can be brought against the employer and any individuals involved, such as a manager.
For an employer to reduce the risk of being served with a whistleblowing claim. The starting point is to have a whistleblowing or ‘speak up’ policy which commits to a culture of openness, sets out internal and external whistleblowing channels, explains how complaints will be addressed, and makes clear that any retaliation against a whistleblower is a disciplinary matter
Training in the policy is also key. A survey by whistleblowing charity Protect found that 93 per cent of employers had whistleblowing procedures in place but only 43 per cent of employees were aware of whistleblowing policies at work.
Managers are the ones most likely to be on the receiving end of a whistleblowing disclosure, and it is essential that they are trained on how to recognise and respond to these complaints, and how to foster a ‘listen up’ culture across management. It is also a good idea for all other employees to have training as well, so they know how to raise concerns. If employees at all levels of seniority are trained together this can help to demonstrate business ‘buy-in’ to the process.