Neil Andrews - Partner, Coles Miller

Don't Be A Victim Of Whistleblowing - Implement A Policy29th Jan 2014

by Neil Andrews on 29th Jan 2014

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Whistleblowing is a major concern for any employer – and not just because the cause may be genuine.Neil Andrews - Partner, Coles Miller

Of equal concern is the worrying incentive for opportunist employee-claimants to make whistleblowing detriment claims against their former employers.

Why would they? Simple – a whistleblowing detriment claim can be a tactical ruse to win compensation at an Employment Tribunal.

There is no qualifying minimum period of service for whistleblowing detriment claims – unlike unfair dismissal which is now two years for employees hired after April 6 2012.

Nor is there a restriction on how much compensation a tribunal may award for a successful whistleblowing detriment claim.

Employees who have seen damages for unfair dismissal fall from a maximum £74,200 to the lesser of £74,200 or 12 months’ salary may seize upon whistleblowing as a way of raising the payout.

For a whistleblowing claim to be valid – “in the reasonable belief of the worker” – one of the following must have occurred (or be likely to occur):

  • a criminal offence
  • a breach of legal obligations
  • a miscarriage of justice
  • danger to the health and safety of any individual
  • damage to the environment
  • deliberate concealing of any information concerning any of the above criteria.

Companies should take steps to reduce risk – and not just by ensuring they do not give cause for genuine whistleblowing.

Employers should implement a whistleblowing policy, publicise it internally and train managers how to deal with the issue.

Whistleblowers must never be victimised or treated detrimentally because of their disclosure.

For expert legal advice on whistleblowing, contact Coles Miller employment law solicitor Neil Andrews, 01202 673011.