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Whistleblowing

As your trusted employment law advisor, our Solicitors have many years of experience and expertise in the area of whistleblowing and protected disclosure. No matter how complex or contentious your whistleblowing matter, Wilford Smith Solicitors will provide clear, strategic guidance and representation to control and limit any fallout if an employee 'blows the whistle.' We will protect your legal position and reputation while providing the most robust defence possible if you have been accused of wrongdoing in handling a whistleblowing case.

As a full-service law firm, we will work as a seamless extension of your in-house legal and HR teams, offering the highest level of whistleblowing legal expertise, support, and guidance. Our aim is to limit your risk exposure and ensure that your whistleblowing matter is resolved as quickly, cost-effectively, and amicably as possible.

Contact us on 0808 164 1349 or complete our online enquiry form to find out how we can help with your whistleblowing matter.

 

What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing occurs when an individual discloses information regarding suspected wrongdoing or risks within the workplace. Whistleblowing is more formally known as 'making a disclosure in the public interest.' A whistleblower may raise concerns about the conduct of a manager or another member of staff or in relation to the conduct or actions of a third party, such as a service provider, supplier, or customer. Whistleblowers may raise concerns about risks to health and safety, bullying or harassment, discrimination, illegal behaviour, unethical, theft, or any other breaches of the law.

Whistleblowing differs from a complaint in that the information disclosed by the Whistleblower typically relates to conduct that does not impact them personally. Instead, this conduct will often affect the employer or a third party.

 

What protection does the law give to Whistleblowers?

Statutory whistleblower rights were introduced by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA), which amended the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996). The ERA 1996 protects employees from dismissal or detriment on the basis that they have made a protected disclosure.

 

When is a disclosure protected?

For a person to be protected by whistleblowing law, they must have made a disclosure on the basis that they have a reasonable belief that one of the following has happened, is happening, or may happen in the future:

  • A criminal offence
  • Breach of a legal obligation
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • Danger to the health and safety of any individual
  • Damage to the environment
  • The deliberate concealing of information about any of the above

The Whistleblower must also reasonably believe that the disclosure they are making is "in the public interest", but they are no longer required to show it was made in good faith.

 

What are employers' responsibilities in respect of whistleblowing?

While the law does not require employers to have whistleblowing policies in place, implementing such policies and procedures can be beneficial in demonstrating that you are committed to listening to workers' concerns. This can also enable your firm to respond more effectively to whistleblowing disclosures, better control risk and resolve wrongdoing more quickly and effectively.

Who should a protected disclosure be made to?

There is no need to tell the employer first; however, under PIDA, employees are encouraged, where appropriate, to make their disclosure to the employer (this is referred to as an 'internal disclosure') in the first instance. Clearly, this is not always possible; hence if a disclosure is made to an external party, the employee will still be protected in certain circumstances. The type of protection available depends on whether the person making the disclosure is an employee, a person responsible for the failure, a legal advisor, a government minister, or a person prescribed by an order made by the Secretary of State.

There is also an approved list of 'prescribed persons' to whom workers can make disclosures, as long as they believe the information is substantially true and relates to a matter within their remit. These prescribed persons include agencies and regulators such as:

  • HMRC
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • The Office of Fair Trading
  • The Charity Commission
  • Members of Parliament
  • Other industry regulators.

Why Wilford Smith Solicitors?

Wilford Smith was founded over 30 years ago and is now considered one of the UK's most prestigious law firms, has developed a richly deserved reputation for excellence in our core areas of law, including employment and HR. We are more than just a law firm; we are your trusted legal advisor and will be there at every step of your commercial journey. You are never alone. The advice, support, and representation we provide to your business will be tailored to your needs and specific to your industry sector. You can be assured that with our team handling your whistleblowing matter, exceptional outcomes are the norm.

Our employment law teams are based in Sheffield and advise and represent clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 0808 168 5813 to find out how we can help with your whistleblowing matter.

 

 

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2022 Wilford Smith is the trading name of WS Strategic Ltd. a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 07777022. Registered office – Meadowhall Business Park, Sheffield S9 2EQ. We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Registration Number 640898.