What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is a term used for the act of employees exposing wrongdoings within a company or organisation. The disclosure of these wrongdoings must be done in the interest of the public (i.e. it must affect others), not just the whistle-blower. 

Employees making a disclosure in the public interest or 'blowing the whistle' are protected by law, under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which means they should not be treated unfairly or lose their job as a result of raising the concern.

Complaints that count as whistleblowing:

  • a criminal offence, for example fraud
  • someone’s health and safety is in danger
  • risk or actual damage to the environment
  • a miscarriage of justice
  • the company is breaking the law, for example does not have the correct insurance
  • you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

If you're still not sure if your complaint qualifies under whistleblowing law you can seek guidance from Citizens Advice.

Complaints that do not count as whistleblowing

Workplace disputes involving bullying, harassment, discrimination or other such personal grievances, are not covered by whistleblowing law as standard, however, if it can be proven that your case is in the public interest it may qualify.

If you need to report such issues, you should do so through your company's grievance policy. Also, you can contact Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) for help and advice on resolving a workplace dispute.

Who can I contact?

In the first instance, you should find an authorised person or group within your company to report the matter.

If for any reason you do not feel you can raise a concern to anyone within the company, you can contact Public Concern At Work (PCAW). PCAW is a whistleblowing charity set up to assist whistle-blowers and protect the public.

For whistleblowing advice call 020 7404 6609 or you can visit www.whistleblowing.org.uk for further information.

For further guidance on whistleblowing and what to expect from the process, visit Whistleblowing for employees.