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Whistleblowing

You’re a whistleblower if you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing

 

If you are a worker concerned that your employer is committing breaches of equality and human rights law, you can report your concerns to us

If the information you provide meets certain criteria, you may be protected by whistleblowing law. This means you should not be treated unfairly or lose your job because you reported it.

We will deal with your concern in accordance with this policy.

What is a whistleblower?

You’re a whistleblower if you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing. This will usually be something you’ve seen at work – though not always.

The wrongdoing you disclose must be in the public interest. Whether it is in the public interest will depend on:

  • the number of people affected
  • the nature and impact of the wrongdoing
  • who the wrongdoer is

Generally, this means that the concern must have an impact that is wider than one employee’s personal circumstances.

As a whistleblower you are protected by law. You should not be treated unfairly or lose your job because you ‘blow the whistle’.

Who is protected by law?

You may be protected if you’re a worker. For example, you’re:

  • an employee
  • a trainee, such as a student nurse
  • an agency worker
  • a member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Get advice if you’re not sure you are protected.

A confidentiality clause or ‘gagging clause’ in a settlement agreement is not valid if you’re a whistleblower and it tries to stop you from making a protected disclosure.

Deciding whether a disclosure is protected can be complicated and only an Employment Tribunal can make that decision.

If you have entered into an agreement with your employer that includes a restriction on what you can discuss about the issue you wish to raise, you should seek independent advice on the terms of that agreement and whether your disclosure is likely to be protected before making the disclosure to us.

Concerns that count as whistleblowing

You may be protected by law if you report any of the following:

  • 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, it does not have the right insurance
  • you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

Get advice if you’re not sure you are protected.

Concerns that do not count as whistleblowing

Unless your particular case is in the public interest, personal grievances are not covered by whistleblowing law.

Report these under your employer’s grievance policy.

Contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) for help and advice on resolving a workplace dispute.

Who to tell

You can tell your employer – they may have a whistleblowing policy that tells you what to expect if you report your concern to them. You can still report your concern to them if they do not have a policy.

You can get legal advice from a lawyer, or seek help from an advice service.

You can tell a prescribed person or body. If you tell a prescribed person or body, you must make sure it is one that deals with the issue you are raising.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a prescribed body for whistleblowing about breaches of equality or human rights law. If your concern is about a breach of equality or human rights law, you can tell us.

Remember that you will only be protected by whistleblowing law if the wrongdoing you report is in the public interest. Whether it is in the public interest will depend on:

  • the number of people affected
  • the nature and impact of the wrongdoing
  • who the wrongdoer is

Generally, this means that the concern must have an impact that is wider than one employee’s personal circumstances.

Before reporting a concern

We can’t tell you whether your concern is protected by whistleblowing law. If you are unsure, you should seek advice before reporting it.

Reporting anonymously or confidentially

You do not have to give us your name or contact details, but it is helpful if you do.

If you report concerns anonymously, it might make it harder for us to investigate your concern or to conduct any enquiries in a way that could protect you from being identified.

We will still record the disclosure in our annual report and, even if we can’t take action, it may help with our plans for future work.

We cannot guarantee that your identity will remain protected. However, we will not disclose your identity without your consent, unless there are legal reasons that require us to do so. For example, we may need to tell the police if a vulnerable person is at risk of being harmed.

What we will do with your information

Your information helps us decide whether to look more closely at an organisation’s compliance with equality and human rights law. 

If you have provided us with an email or contact address, you will receive an acknowledgement that we have received your concern. We normally provide acknowledgements within 10 working days.

We will make a record of your concern and decide whether to take any action on it. When doing this, we will take into account our business plan and litigation and enforcement policy.  

We are unlikely to get in touch with you again unless we need more information. If we do need more information and you have given us your contact details, we will get in touch using the details you have provided, unless you have indicated that you do not wish to be contacted. 

Even if you don’t hear from us, or we don’t take immediate action, we will use the information you provided in our work. For example, to help us plan what we will do in the future. We take all concerns seriously and deal with them on a case by case basis.

You will not have a say in how we deal with your concern and we may not be able to give you much detail if we have to keep the confidence of other people. Section 6 of the Equality Act 2006 may also limit what we can share with you about any action we take.

Sharing information

There are certain circumstances where it may be necessary for us to share the information you have provided with others without your consent. For example, where this is necessary to safeguard children or vulnerable adults or to prevent a serious crime.

If we do this, we will let you know, as long as we can do so without breaching the confidence of others or putting an investigation at risk.

Our privacy notice sets out how we handle, store, use and share your personal information.

Other sources of help

We are unable to provide you with advice on your personal situation, including:

  • whether any disclosure you make is likely to be protected
  • whether you might have any equality, human rights or employment claims

However, you may find the following sources of advice useful:

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) can give you help and advice on resolving a workplace dispute.

Protect (formally called Public Concern at Work) is an independent whistleblowing charity which can explain the types of wrongdoing you can report, your rights, and the next steps that you can take.

The Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent charity that can advise you on your employment rights.

The Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) can advise you on issues relating to equality and human rights.

Report your concern to us

The survey is quick to complete and ensures we have all the information that we need to consider your disclosure.

Other ways to raise your concerns

You can email your concerns to: whistleblowing@equalityhumanrights.com

If you would like to raise your concerns over the phone, you can email us or contact our Reception team on 0161 829 8100 to arrange a call.

You can contact us using our British Sign Language (BSL) online interpreting service.

You can email us to ask for an Easy Read guide about the information we need from you: whistleblowing@equalityhumanrights.com.

Last updated: 12 Aug 2021