Access to Justice
Not many whistleblowers can afford legal representation and they do not always have access to legal support (such as through a trade union or home insurance legal cover). Fees to take a claim may have been abolished, but whistleblowing claims are complex and whistleblowers representing themselves in person fare worse than those with legal representation.
Justice delayed, is justice denied. The employment tribunal was already suffering backlogs before the pandemic and a recent report by the House of Lords Constitution Committee found by late February 2021 there was a 45% increase in the number of outstanding cases, in part due to complications arising from the pandemic.
This makes it difficult to justify the strict time limits within which an employment tribunal claim must be lodged (3 months). There is an even tighter deadline of 7 days from the date of dismissal if the claimant seeks an order for interim relief (an order that their contract of employment should be deemed to continue).
What Protect say:
We want to see time limits to 6 months (and 21 days for interim relief) and reintroduce legal aid so that whistleblowers are better equipped to enforce their legal rights and obtain a remedy in the employment tribunal.
Both of these issues are addressed in our draft bill.