Dismissals and whistleblowing
A worker can't be dismissed because of whistleblowing. If they are, they can claim unfair dismissal - they'll be protected by law as long as certain criteria are met.
Types of whistleblowing eligible for protection
- These are called 'qualifying disclosures'. They include when someone reports:
- that someone's health and safety is in danger
- damage to the environment
- a criminal offence
- that the company isn't obeying the law (like not having the right insurance)
- that someone's covering up wrongdoing
Who is protected
The following people are protected:
- agency workers
- people that are training with an employer, but not employed
- self-employed workers, if supervised or working off-site
You're also protected if you work in a school or sixth-form college, whether you're an employee or an agency worker.
NHS workers who work under certain contractual arrangements, eg certain GPs and dentists, are also protected.
A worker will be eligible for protection if:
- they honestly think what they're reporting is true
- they think they're telling the right person
- they believe that their disclosure is in the public interest
Who isn't protected
Workers aren't protected from dismissal if:
- they break the law when they report something, eg they signed the Official Secrets Act
- they found out about the wrongdoing when someone wanted legal advice ('legal professional privilege'), eg if they're a solicitor
Workers dismissed for whistleblowing can go to an employment tribunal.
If the tribunal decides the employee has been unfairly dismissed, it will order that they are:
- reinstated (get their job back)
- paid compensation
A whistleblower who is bullied at work will also be able to bring a claim to the employment tribunal against their employer or colleagues.
Workers are protected from unfair treatment even if they blow the whistle on something that happened abroad. This includes when a different country's law has been or will be broken.