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Third parties

Third Parties – including family members – connected to the whistleblower

The issue:

As the law currently stands, third parties, such as colleagues or family members of a whistleblower, are not protected under UK whistleblowing law. Those related to, or connected with a whistleblower may suffer workplace victimisation as a result : they too should be able to seek redress.

Potential scenario

Sita works as a carer in a care home, together with her sister Mala. Sita witnessed her manager, Winston, putting residents’ medication into his rucksack and taking it home. When she asked him why he did this, Winston said, “those old folks don’t need it. My wife is sick and needs help”. Sita sympathised with Winston but knew that this was theft and endangered the residents’ lives. Sita raised concerns to the care home director who investigated. Winston was disciplined but allowed to continue working in the home. In the days that followed, Winston began to make veiled threats to Mala. He told her that she was a bad carer and should ‘go back home’.

Under the law as it is, Mala does not have protection against being treated badly on the grounds of Sita’s disclosure. Nevertheless, there is a clear connection between her and Sita and it is obvious that Winston victimised her in retaliation because Sita had raised concerns. Protect recognises whistleblowing can have an impact outside of the whistleblower’s own experiences and a whistleblower’s family is an easy target for victimisation.

Protect says

Whistleblowers tell us that they are hesitant to raise concerns because of the impact it may have on them and their family. This can mean that public interest wrongdoing does not get raised and grows into a bigger problem. Family members or friends in the same workplace are an easy target for bullying or victimisation, and while they may raise a grievance, they currently have no rights to bring a whistleblowing detriment claim. By offering legal protection to family members where they are victimised, more whistleblowers will be encouraged to make a disclosure to their employer or a regulator.

Whistleblowing affects us all. Protect’s campaign Let’s Fix UK Whistleblowing Law needs your support. Click the banner below to write to your local MP.