Grievance or Whistleblowing?

Are you treating a concern raised by an employee in the right way?

 

A whistleblower is an employee who reports a certain kind of wrong doing usually in the work place, the law does protect whistleblowers but doesn’t provide any protection for a grievance. The recent case of Chesterton Global Ltd v Nurmohamed has raised many new questions in relation to whistleblowing, and may alter the effect this has on you as an employer.

 

The law on whistleblowing changed back in 2013, and said that when an employee whistleblow’s it must be within the public interest. This was to stop employees from trying to misuse whistleblowing to protect themselves or matters relating to their own contract of employment.

 

In a recent court of appeal case relating to the law on whistleblowing, it has been said that there is a fine line between what you should be treating as a personal grievance and what is in the ‘public interest’ for whistleblowing.

 

In the present case, the employee brought an unfair dismissal claim saying his dismissal was automatically unfair, on the basis that he made a protected disclosure whilst in employment. It was accepted by the Employment Tribunal he made the disclosure in the public interest.

 

So far in the appeal, the lawyers for the employer have said it is irrelevant as to the number of people that the raised concern affects or how many may be involved in the matter and in this case the lawyers believe this matter is a grievance matter rather than whistleblowing. Whereas the claimant’s lawyers raised the issue that whistleblowing is in the ‘public interest’ if it is more than purely personal.

 

A final judgement is expected to come in the next few months on the appeal, providing clarification on what constitutes whistleblowing in ‘the public interest’ as opposed to a grievance. Which will give you more guidance and reassurance when dealing with concerns raised my employees.

 

Written by Leah Williams, Paralegal at Your HR Lawyer

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