WHAT IS WHISTLEBLOWING?
A worker raising a concern with someone in authority — internally and/or externally (e.g. to regulators, MPs, the media) — about wrongdoing, risk or malpractice that affects others.
Protect’s definition of whistleblowing
This definition is in line with the legal definition of whistleblowing under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA)
Our Advice Line
If you’ve seen, heard or suspect wrongdoing in your workplace, or know of a serious risk or accident ‘waiting to happen’ – we can help.
What is a whistleblowing concern?
There are many issues that could be considered to be whistleblowing issues. Common examples of whistleblowing that we hear about on our Advice Line include:
- an employer breaking the law or breaching contract
- financial wrongdoing such as fraud
- the health and safety of patients, staff or the general public being put at risk
- ethical concerns such as the conduct of staff or conflicts of interest
Information on the categories of wrongdoing can be found here.
What is the difference between whistleblowing and raising a grievance?
This can be a really tricky distinction. If you are unsure whether your concerns are best raised as whistleblowing concerns or as grievances, have a look at the differences between the two processes, outlined below:
Thinking of blowing a whistle?
If you want to blow the whistle to your employer and they don’t have a whistleblowing policy, contact our Advice Line on 020 3117 2520 or send us an email. We can help you think through how best to raise your concerns and check whether your concerns regard a matter of public interest or how you have been treated as an individual.
When does bullying become a whistleblowing concern?
Bullying is a very difficult matter to tackle. If you are being bullied yourself, you should raise this as a grievance. If your employer has an anti-bullying policy, follow the process there.
However, there can be instances when bullying may become a whistleblowing matter and there are some factors which may indicate this:
However, from an employer’s perspective, even when an individual says that there is a bullying culture in their team, if no one else comes forward and if there is no record of grievances that have previously been filed about the matter, then this can make it difficult for your employer to investigate and act. It is important that your colleagues who are also affected should be willing to participate in any subsequent investigation, otherwise it may be more effective to raise this as a collective grievance or by enforcing your own rights in the workplace by seeking the advice of a trade union or from ACAS.
My employer doesn’t have a whistleblowing policy – should I raise a grievance instead?
As we set out above, your employer should follow a different route for dealing with whistleblowing concerns and grievances. Using the wrong process can make matters difficult. For example, it is difficult for a whistleblower to have their confidentiality respected if a grievance is followed (a fair process may mean an individual complained about needs to know the basis of a problem to allow them to put their case).
If you want to blow the whistle to your employer and they don’t have a policy to follow, contact us for advice. We can help you think through who best to raise your concerns with, and how to express the concern as a matter of public interest, rather than a complaint about how you have been treated as an individual.