What protection does the law give to “whistle blowers”?
David Coward at Sampson Coward in Salisbury says the law protects workers who make protected disclosures. A protected disclosure must, in the reasonable belief of the worker, show that a criminal offence, a breach of any legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice, danger to an individual’s health and safety or damage to the environment has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur.
Most protected disclosures are made internally to the employer but there are also protected disclosures that can be made to specific third parties such as the Health and Safely Executive.
The dismissal of an employee will be automatically unfair if the reason, or principal reason, is that they have made a protected disclosure. It is also unlawful for an employer to subject a worker to a detriment, eg disciplinary action, or damage to career prospects on the grounds that they have made a protected disclosure.
There is no upper limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded in a whistle blowing claim and accordingly the consequences for employers are potentially very damaging.
For more employment law advice contact David Coward on 01722 410664.