Protection for whistleblowing in the workplace

Legislation has been in place for some time to protect most workers from being subjected to a detriment by their employer in circumstances where they have disclosed information, which qualifies for protection under the law.

Employees can obtain protection if they disclose matters relevant to either past, present or future situations. relating to criminal offences, miscarriages of justice, health & safety dangers, damage to the environment or breaches of legal obligation.

The provisions protect persons who work under Contracts of Employment; those who work personally for someone else under a "worker's" contract but are not genuinely self-employed; home workers; certain agency workers; National Health Service practitioners such as GPs, certain dentists, pharmacists and opticians and certain categories of trainees.

The law also describes the circumstances, in which the disclosure of information becomes protected. For disclosures to be protected by the law employees must make the disclosure in good faith (which means with honest intent and without malice). Employees must also reasonably believe that the information they are disclosing is substantially true and that they are making the disclosure to the right prescribed person.

There are some disclosures that cannot be qualifying disclosures for example if the Official Secrets Act was signed as part of an employment contract or if the information is protected under legal professional privilege. There are other detailed regulations within the legislation, which assist in the definition of what is and is not a qualifying or protected disclosure. These provisions therefore render void any provision within the contract of employment that attempts to prevent workers from making such disclosures.

Employees who are either dismissed or subjected to other detriment by their employer arising out of a disclosure may bring an application to Employment Tribunal for a remedy.

Contractual Information Guide

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