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Covid-19 one year on: Protect remembers lives lost and thanks whistleblowers for speaking up to stop harm

Protect will be taking part in the national day of refection and one minute’s silence on March 23 at midday to reflect on the lives lost in the pandemic one year on – and to also thank the many whistleblowers who spoke out on Covid-19 concerns.

Chief Executive Liz Gardiner said, “We will join the many in commemorating the thousands of people who have sadly lost their lives to the virus and their loved ones.

“But we also want to thank the many whistleblowers who have spoken out on serious covid concerns – at the risk of losing their jobs to keep us safe.  We know from our report The Best Warning System: Whistleblowing During Covid-19, that 20% of whistleblowers were dismissed for whistleblowing on issues such as PPE, social distancing and poor Covid regulations in the workplace. We should all be grateful they chose to speak up to stop harm, to keep us safe.”

The Best Warning System: Whistleblowing During Covid-19 examined 638 Covid-19 anonymised cases for the period between 23 March – 30 September and found an alarming 20% of whistleblowers were dismissed after raising concerns about Covid-19 issues.

One year on from the pandemic, callers to Protect’s Advice Line are still being dismissed for whistleblowing. We compared dismissal rates of all callers to our Advice Line between September 2019- March 2020 (21% dismissed) and September 2020 – March 2021 (26% dismissed) which revealed a 5% increase.

Protect is campaigning for reform of UK whistleblowing legislation, the Public Interest Disclosure Act and wants to see an end to both ignoring and victimising whistleblowers who call out workplace wrongdoing.

Chief Executive Liz Gardiner said “The pandemic has exposed how, in reality, it is too easy to ignore whistleblowers, or worse, dismiss them for speaking out. There needs to be legal standards requiring employers to have whistleblowing arrangements. Organisations should face sanctions where they are found to be in breach of the whistleblowing standards, which should include fines and regulatory action”.

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