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I’m a whistleblower, where can I go for help or support? Task

A whistleblower is someone who reports wrongdoing in relation to their place of work. The wrongdoing must be in the public interest which means that it must have an impact on other people, for example, the general public. 

Whistleblowers are protected by law. This means that as a whistleblower you should not be treated unfairly or lose your job. You can raise your concerns about something that has happened in the past, is currently happening or you think will happen in the near future.

Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 1998, you are protected by law if you report any of the following:

  • Criminal offences
  • Someone’s health and safety are in danger
  • Damage or risk of damage to the environment
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • The company you work for is breaking the law
  • You believe that someone is covering up wrongdoing

Situations that are not covered by whistleblowing law involve personal grievances (e.g. bullying, harassment, discrimination) unless the case is in the public interest.

The whistleblowing law protects you if you are working in one of the following ways:

  • An employee
  • A trainee
  • An agency worker
  • A member of a limited liability partnership (LLP)

A confidentiality or ‘gagging’ clause in a settlement agreement is not valid if you are a whistleblower.

The report of wrongdoing should be made to your employer first. However, if you feel unable to do this you can report the wrongdoing to a prescribed person or organisation. A list of prescribed people and organisations is available here

You can tell your employer or a prescribed person anonymously, but they may be unable to take the claim further if you have not provided all of the information they need. If you request confidentiality, every effort should be made to protect your identity. 

Your employer or the prescribed person will listen to your report and decide if any action is needed. You will not have a say in how your concern is dealt with, but they can keep you informed about the action taken.

If you report the wrongdoing to the media, it is likely that you will lose your whistleblowing law rights.

If you have been treated unfairly after whistleblowing, you could take your case to an employment tribunal that makes decisions in legal disputes related to employment law. Before you make a case, you must tell the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) that you plan to make a claim to the employment tribunal. 

Acas will offer you their free ‘early conciliation service which provides an opportunity to reach an agreement without going to tribunal. This process can take up to six weeks.  If early conciliation does not work, Acas will give you an early conciliation certificate which is what you will use to make a claim to the tribunal. Once you have the early conciliation certificate, you have at least one month to make a claim.

If you are unsure whether the whistleblowing law provides protection in your situation, there are several organisations that might be able to help you.

Citizens’ Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ 

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas): https://www.acas.org.uk/

Protect: https://protect-advice.org.uk/

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