Those who speak out about information which they believe points towards malpractice in their own organisations can be vulnerable to victimisation. Such action, even though it may be from the best of motives, can prove to be “career- limiting”.
We advise executives in this kind of situation about how best to handle the issues, while at the same time protecting themselves.
Under the law, whistleblowers potentially enjoy special protection from dismissal and other detrimental treatment, if they disclose information which they reasonably believe points towards:
- Criminal offence(s) (such as suspected fraud, bribery, insider trading or immigration offences)
- Failure to comply with legal obligation(s) (such as contractual or regulatory duties)
- Any miscarriage of justice
- Endangerment of health or safety
- Damage to the environment
- A cover- up of any of the above.
However, that legal protection does not always translate into actual protection in practice. In formulating a strategy, it is always important to consider:
- Why you believe that the information points towards malpractice within one or more of the above categories
- Whether you are making a mere allegation, rather than disclosing information
- Whether the information is disclosed in the public interest (rather than merely in pursuit of some private objective, however legitimate)
- What the employer’s procedures are for making such disclosures
- To whom the disclosure should be made
Our assistance to executives in this area includes:
- Advising on strategy and the making of protected disclosures
- Advising on handling of internal procedures
- Resolving disputes about malpractice allegations and disclosures through negotiation and/or mediation
- Bringing claims in the Employment Tribunal for executives who have been victimised or dismissed as a result of making protected disclosures.