Employment law

The different types of whistleblowing

There are a variety of malpractices in the workplace that can be reported through whistleblowing. If you’re holding information about any of the following examples of whistleblowing in the workplace, you have the right to speak out.

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Employment law solicitors

Slater and Gordon’s experienced solicitors are here to guide and support you throughout the whistleblowing process and advise on what legal protection you have. Call us on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we’ll call you.

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What actions can you take to report wrongdoing in your organisation?

Reporting existing or suspected wrongdoing in your workplace is a moral action to take. Depending on the type of malpractice, there are different people and organisations to initially consult who can review the information and advise on what the next steps will be.

If you’re unsure which type of whistleblowing approach you should be taking, it’s highly recommended to seek advice from an employment law expert.

What are the different forms of whistleblowing?

Internal whistleblowing - The most common form of whistleblowing is internal, where an employee reports wrongdoing to another party within the organisation. This process may be outlined in your employer’s whistleblowing policy. For the report to be handled effectively by your employer, it’s essential to consult and comply with this policy.

External whistleblowing - Whistleblowing externally involves reporting the incident to sources outside the organisation such as a relevant prescribed body. When doing so, employees must reasonably believe that the malpractice falls within the remit of the organisation they are reporting to, for example, health and safety complaints can be made to the Health and Safety Executive.

Cyber whistleblowing – This form of whistleblowing has evolved alongside the increased risk of security and storage of data online. These types of whistleblowing cases can involve security breaches, unsecure practices, encryption deficiencies, and being hacked.

It’s important to note that discovering wrongdoings in certain fields of work require specific channels and procedures. If you’re unsure of which route to take, our experts are here to advise you to ensure your report is managed effectively.

What situations can result in whistleblowing?

Your qualifying disclosure must show one, or more, of the following types of malpractice with a reasonable belief that the act has taken place, is currently taking place or is likely to take place in the future.

The following examples of whistleblowing in the workplace qualify as a protected disclosure under the Public Disclosure Act 1998.

A criminal offence - There are several categories of criminal acts, though those most likely to be committed by organisations are financial and white-collar crimes. These are often driven by financial gain and include various types of fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and embezzlement.

Health and safety danger - The Health and Safety Act 1974 imposes a duty on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees. To guarantee safety in the workplace for not only yourself but also your colleagues, it’s essential to report any instances where a health and safety breach has occurred or may place danger on employees in the future if not resolved.

Risk or actual damage to the environment - Sources of energy, wildlife and natural resources are subject to numerous laws and policies which organisations must adhere to. You may come into information that evidences your organisation has falsely represented their compliance such as the avoidance of paying environmental fines and inaccuracy in the number of resources they extract from public land. Other examples of misconduct concerning the environment include ocean dumping and the protection of wildlife.

Miscarriage of justice

The company is breaking the law - There are a large number of laws that employers can violate. These can be internal to the organisation and workforce such as those wrongdoings classified under employment laws including working time regulations, minimum wage and discrimination. You may also spot occurrences that don’t directly affect employees such as your company not holding the right insurance.

Someone is covering up wrongdoing - If you believe a person, or group of people, are involved in the deliberate attempt to conceal information regarding any of the malpractices outline above, you can also report this under the disclosure act.

What negative impacts might occur as a result of whistleblowing?

Telling the truth is the right thing to do, which is why there are laws and representative organisations in place to protect you. Unfortunately, your employer and certain colleagues may not agree with your decision to speak out. Following a whistleblowing report, you may experience a hostile working environment, restrictions to your role, harassing behaviour, or even unfair dismissal from your role.

Though the threat of these may deter you from taking action, these consequences are also unlawful and there are several legal remedies available. If you experience any unfair treatment due to whistleblowing, we’re here to help resolve issues with your employer. From internal grievance procedures through to presenting your case to Employment Tribunal if necessary, our highly experienced employment solicitors will offer advice and support from the outset.

Having handled numerous whistleblowing cases, our specialists can provide you with a clear understanding and continuous support throughout the process. Call us on 0330 041 5869, or contact us and we’ll call you.

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