Whistle Blowing - Public Interest Disclosures

Whistleblowing is the more commonly used name for reports made which are intended to be protected under the legislation relating to public interest disclosures.

The protection afforded to employees is the ability to claim damages for detrimental treatment suffered because of raising a concern which amounts to a public interest disclosure or having the ability to claim automatic unfair dismissal with uncapped damages in circumstances where their employment may have been bought to an end where the main or principle reason for the same was the employee having had made a public interest disclosure.

In order for a disclosure to amount to a qualifying disclosure it needs to be made in the public interest and in circumstances where the person raising the concern reasonably believes that one or more of the following is either happening, happened or is likely to happen in the future;

  1. Criminal offence;
  2. The breach of a legal obligation;
  3. A miscarriage of justice;
  4. A danger to the health and safety of any individual;
  5. Damage to the environment;
  6. Deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above.

The protection is afforded to employees and workers under the employment rights and the public interest disclosure act. The disclosure should be made in good faith and not for personal profit or the benefit of the individual.

Since the introduction of the two year qualifying period in order to bring claims of unfair dismissal this type of claim has seen an increase at the employment tribunal as where an employee has had their employment terminated where they can assert that a main or principle reason for the termination of employment was due to raising a protective disclosure they are not required to have worked the two year qualifying period which would normally apply.

Before an employer proceeds to terminate an employee who has worked less than two years service or in circumstances where it could be asserted that they have raised a qualifying disclosure the employer should take immediate legal advice to avoid significate potential claims. The Biscoes employment team can assist employers in the preparation of whistleblowing policies to include in staff handbooks and advise generally in relation to the procedure in dealing with employees or workers who have raised an protected disclosure or in the event of a claim has been raised at tribunal asserting that the employee or worker has suffered detrimental treatment because of having made a protective disclosure or a claim from an employee asserting they have suffered automatic unfair dismissal as a result of the same.


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