Whistleblowing is the popular term for public disclosure about a range of issues which might constitute “wrongdoing”.
Most employment contracts contain covenants which might prevent disclosure – called restrictive covenants.
However, when wrongdoing has taken place and an employee makes this public or reports it to the authorities, they are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 – often referred to as the Whistleblowers’ Act.
Many employees may fear if they disclose illegal or unethical practices in the workplace, they will lose their job – or may face censure from colleagues or their profession.
Many high-profile cases involving poor, negligent or wilfully negligent care in the NHS or private health sector have come to public attention because of whistleblowers, however – and public disclosure about issues of bad practice in organisations can help protect the vulnerable and expose corruption.
Employees are protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act – as well as other staff, such as agency workers, trainees and freelance workers.
It is important to realise that not all whistleblowers are protected under the Act, however, as there are uncertain activities which are classed as a “qualifying disclosure”, including:
A qualifying disclosure would also involve any attempt to conceal any of the above breaches or activities.
Disclosure to the media is known as an external disclosure – and protection under the Act would depend on the gravity of the disclosure and any details being in the public interest, rather than an employee acting for reasons of malice or for financial gain.
Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, an employee who makes a public disclosure about illegal, unethical or negligent practices in the workplace is protected in several ways:
If a whistleblower is dismissed by an employer as the direct result of a qualifying disclosure, it is possible to make a claim for unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal – in these cases it is likely that any claim would be accepted by the tribunal automatically.
There is a procedure that must be followed before turning whistleblower:
Duncan Lewis employment law solicitors can advise employees at any stage of a public disclosure – and strongly advises any employee considering making a qualifying disclosure to talk to one of our specialist employment law solicitors about whistleblowing and protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.
Duncan Lewis solicitors also have successful criminal law, medical negligence, immigration law, family law and property and housing law departments – and our in-house legal experts can advise on most areas of the law involved in public interest disclosure, including white collar crime, local authority services and government organisations.
Duncan Lewis employment lawyers act on behalf of claimants and respondents in all Employment Tribunal related matters.
The Duncan Lewis employment team can represent all types of employers, both large and small – as well as advising individual employees and collective employees on matters relating to the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
Duncan Lewis employment law solicitors operate a transparent fee scale – and can offer a range of competitively priced funding options for claimants and respondents:
Some cases may be funded with Home Contents Insurance or Contents/Buildings Insurance with Employment Protection Cover.
In some cases, Legal Aid may be available to fund a case.
Duncan Lewis believes clients should always know what they will be paying – and will advise on the best funding option at the initial client meeting.
If you have a problem with employment or wish to make a qualifying disclosure about an employer, it is important to take legal advice and find out what your rights are as soon as possible.
Duncan Lewis can offer clear legal advice on employment law at any stage of an employment matter, including whistleblowing.
Duncan Lewis also has a successful track record in advising companies and employers on employment matters and disputes involving public interest disclosure.
The sooner you call us, the sooner we can help with an employment matter.
Duncan Lewis has offices nationwide and in most major cities, with more than 20 offices across London and the southeast.
For expert legal advice on employment law and whistleblowing, call Duncan Lewis employment solicitors on 020 7923 4020.