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What Is Whistleblowing?

Since the Edward Snowden scandal in 2013, whistleblowing has become a more prominent area for concern across employers.

The official definition of whistleblowing reads as follows; “Making a disclosure that is in the public interest”.

It commonly occurs when a disclosure is made to a public body (most commonly, a regulatory body or the police) by an employee, that their employer is involved in unlawful practices. Many employees are likely to feel as if they are trapped if they become aware of such practices, but there is signification legislation in place in the UK to protect whistle blowers.

The UK employment law offers protection in a number of ways; unfair dismissal, career progression or any other punishment inflicted by an employer.

However, in order for the protection to be granted the disclosure made has to be in the public interest – not that of a disgruntled employee. For instance, if you have been aware of such practices for some time, but the disclosure only comes after a disagreement with a senior member of staff then it may be considered not to be in good faith. Before a disclosure is made, the employee must at least have ‘reasonable belief’ that the information they have is true – whistleblowing is not about trivial allegations.

For the information to amount to whistleblowing, it must involve an activity such as damage to the environment, threats to individuals, illegal activity or a miscarriage of justice.

It is best practice for employers to implement their own whistleblowing procedure (protected disclosure) that enables employees to raise concerns about colleagues or the company itself. Usually, there is a nominated person for workers to take their concerns too, who then takes predetermined steps that are set out in the procedure.

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