Recent years have seen some high profile whistle blowing claims, particularly involving politics and the civil service, although other employees can also bring these type of claims and it is more common now for a claim to be made as part of an unfair dismissal claim, as employment solicitors look to fight for all of their client's potential rights.
Whistle blowers are protected by English law and employees who believe they have been victimised for raising genuine concerns can go to the Employment Tribunal and seek uncapped compensation.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 allows the employee not to suffer any detriment as a result of making a protected disclosure that they have a reasonable belief falls within a category of wrongdoing under the Act, such as
- A Criminal Offence is likely, is being or has been committed;
- Health and Safety has been or is likely to be endangered;
- Miscarriage of Justice is likely, is being or has been committed; or
- Wrongdoing is likely, is being or has been committed.
The disclosure must also be made to one of the persons listed as acceptable under the Act or another person if other requirements are satisfied, such as
- Independent legal advisor; or
- Public bodies
Other individuals can also be notified if the following conditions are met
- The worker believes they will be subjected to a detriment if they report the wrong doing to the employer or public body;
- If there is no public body and they believe that it would be concealed by the employer;
- The worker has made the same disclosure to the public body and employer.
The worker must also not make the disclosure for personal gain and it should be in good faith believing the allegations and information are correct, with a belief that making the disclosure is reasonable.
Where the wrongdoing is exceptionally serious, the worker can also make a disclosure to other individuals, provided that the disclosure is made in good faith, believing the allegations and information are correct, that it is reasonable for the disclosure to be made and it is not for personal gain.