RAISING A WHISTLEBLOWING CONCERN
What should I do?
You’ve seen something that concerns you at work but you’re not sure how or whether you should whistleblow.
Think about raising the concern internally in the first instance – there is the added advantage of your employer being able to act quickly on your concerns than an external body. If you’re unsure of who would qualify as your employer, you will find more information on the legal test on internal disclosure here.
For instance, you may want to consider approaching your line manager or supervisor. If for whatever reason you can’t raise your concerns with them – maybe they are involved in the wrongdoing, you don’t trust them to act properly, you have a poor working relationship, or you fear victimisation from them – then here are some other options to consider:
Should I investigate the concern before I raise it, and what about taking confidential documents?
It’s not your job to investigate. It’s more important to raise your concerns as soon as possible so any action can be taken quickly by the appropriate people within the organisation to stop the harm sooner. But you need to be specific when you raise a concern. Make sure you are raising facts, not just an allegation or opinion. See here for more information.
We’d caution against taking confidential documents or accessing confidential files to try to strengthen the concerns. It could cause you more problems in the long run (do check our webpages on breach of confidence, breach of personal data, and misuse of personal information).
Should I raise my concern anonymously?
How you raise your concern is important and there are differences between raising concerns anonymously, openly and confidentially.
Anonymously raising concerns means no one knows who you are. This may seem like an appealing option but there are some downsides. The person who receives your concern will be unable to ask you follow-up questions for further information. It will also make it harder for an employer or regulator to protect you from victimisation, as they will struggle to confirm your identity as the whistleblower. Finally, you will not be able to use the legal protection for whistleblowers, the Public Interest Disclosure Act, as the protection is based on an ability to demonstrate you have blown the whistle – if the recipient of the concerns doesn’t know who you are then this becomes impossible to establish.
Openly raising your concerns means you are not worried about being identified.
Confidentially raising you concerns is where the person you take your concerns to promises not to reveal your identity.
Raising your concerns either openly or confidentially are more effective ways to raise your concerns. Both methods mean follow-up questions can be asked, action can be taken against any victimisation against you, and both mean you can demonstrate blowing the whistle for the purposes of legal protection.
If you feel the only way to raise your concerns is to progress anonymously, please contact us for advice.
What if I'm wrong?
It is often better to raise a concern that you’re not sure about, rather than to not raise it at all. The law which protects whistleblowers also doesn’t require that you are correct in all circumstances, only that you have a “reasonable belief”
When to call us for advice
There are various reasons that prevent people from raising their concerns. If any of these situations sound familiar, talk to us.
Did you know that you can call us or send us an email?