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Whistleblowing at work

Whistleblowing at work

Whistleblowing at work

Acas publish new guidance on “whistleblowing at work”

Whistleblowing is the action someone takes to report serious malpractice in their organisation. This is also known as ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’ and is becoming increasingly under government scrutiny.  There is no cap on financial awards in whistleblowing claims and the highest level of award in the UK is currently in excess of £3 million.

Whistleblowing needs to be dealt with fairly, robustly and sensitively as failure to do so by an organisation not only has the potential for reputational damage to it but it can also be costly. An open culture where individuals feel confident in sharing wrongdoing within the workplace is imperative to ensure an organisation can manage and function effectively.

Acas have therefore published new guidance for employers and employees on speaking up on wrongdoing in the workplace. Topics include:

  • The law on whistleblowing at work;
  • What someone can whistleblow about;
  • How individuals should make a protected disclosure;
  • How organisations should respond to a protected disclosure; and
  • Guidance for whistleblowing policies.

How to ‘blow the whistle’?

The wrongdoing that an employee wishes to disclose must be in the public interest. If the employee believes that this is the case, they should follow the organisation’s whistleblowing policy. If it does not have a policy, the employee can still report the concern to a suitable person, such a manager or director of the organisation.

The guidance highlights that it is not good practice to make a protected disclosure through a grievance. This is due to the fact that grievance procedures are usually designed to address private concerns, rather than issues in the public interest. There is also a concern that the employee may lose some confidentiality. However, if the employee wishes to make a protected disclosure through a grievance, the employee should state that this is included.

It is important that the protected disclosure is made in confidence and handled correctly. If the employee then suffers a detriment or is dismissed, the employee may be eligible to make a claim to the employment tribunal. Further information can be found below.

Key considerations contained within the guidance for organisations to consider when an employee ‘blows the whistle”:

  • Having a whistleblowing policy. This should detail what whistleblowing is, how staff should report a concern, who they should report to and how managers should respond. You should ensure that the Acas guidance is embedded into your policies;
  • Investigate disclosures thoroughly and promptly. The guidance makes it clear that organisation’s should be keeping the whistleblower informed about the progress regularly; and
  • Training staff on the process of whistleblowing and the consequences of failure to investigate. The more awareness within the organisation, the less chance there will be of wrongdoing being concealed leading to catastrophic headlines.

 Organisations must not:

  • Dismiss someone for whistleblowing. If this is the case, you are at risk of being subject to an unfair dismissal claim if an employee has two or more continuous service. This is costly and time consuming and should therefore be prevented where possible;
  • Subject employees to a detriment for whistleblowing ie. they must not be treated worse than before they made the protected disclosure, or have their situation made worse; and
  • Victimise whistleblowers.

Failure to ensure that whistleblowers do not suffer a detriment or are dismissed can have substantial consequences.

Acas’ provides clear and concise information on “Whistleblowing in the workplace” can be found here: https://www.acas.org.uk/whistleblowing-at-work

Further information on whistleblowing can be found on the government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/whistleblowing

How Kerseys Solicitors can help?

If you have any further enquiries, please contact  Annalie King, Head of our Employment Team or Rosie Brighty Employment Paralegal at Kerseys Solicitors in Ipswich 01473 213311 or Kerseys Solicitors in Colchester 01206 584584 or email [email protected].

Kerseys Solicitors are just a click away visit our website and click “Call Me Back” and a member of our employment team will be happy to contact you at a time that is convenient to you.

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