A beginners guide to whistleblowing

A beginners guide to whistleblowingWhat is whistleblowing?

There are many different ideas as to where the term came ‘whistleblowing’ from, but the most likely is the analogy of a police officer blowing his whistle when he or she catches a crime in progress.  Essentially whistleblowing means calling attention to wrongdoing within an organisation.  If you expose any information or activity within an organisation that is illegal, unethical or incorrect, you are a whistleblower and you should be protected by law.  However, there are rules you must adhere to in order to be protected.

What are the rules?

The law translates the term “whistleblowing” to “making a disclosure in the public interest.” If you blow the whistle on something that is in the public interest, you will be protected and should not be treated unfairly by your employer.

What can you blow the whistle on and still be protected?

  • Criminal activity, such as fraud
  • Health & Safety risks, accidents or malpractice
  • Risk or damage to the environment
  • Miscarriages of justice
  • Your company is breaking the law
  • Someone is covering up wrongdoing

How to blow the whistle

Firstly, you must make your disclosure in good faith.  This means you must not act reasonably and not for personal gain, you must be honest and sincere and you must believe the information you are disclosing is true.  You should then report your disclosure to your employer, a lawyer or an external person or governing body.  

What you can do if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly

There are many options available to you if you feel you have been treated unfairly as a result of whistleblowing.  You can take your case to an Industrial Tribunal, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the Citizens Advice Bureau, your Trade Union or a whistleblowing charity such as Public Concern at Work.  

Where can you go for help?

There are many charities and bodies that provide help and support on whistleblowing.  Follow the links below to find out more.




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