• An article in the Financial Times has reported that whistleblowing is increasing in the United Kingdom.

    Investigations company, Kroll, has undertaken research which has confirmed this. The research shows that more people are starting to blow the whistle on employers than have done previously. The reasons given for the rise in reporting whistleblowing are: conscience, fear and the possibility of a financial reward.

    According to the research, the Financial Conduct Authority publisheded 72% more cases between January and October 2013 than during the preceding 12 months and the number of whistleblowers who telephoned the whistleblower hotline increased by around 1,300 callers.

    It is perhaps a timely reminder that the law on whistleblowing changed in June 2013 and removed the requirement to blow the whistle “in good faith” in order to bring a ‘whistleblowing’ claim in the Employment Tribunal. Perhaps this removal will encourage more people to pursue Tribunal claims if they suffer detriment as a result of having blown the whistle, although the introduction of Tribunal fees during 2013 will, of course, also act as a deterrent to some. Furthermore, to counterbalance the “good faith” change, there is now a requirement that disclosures must be in the public interest in order to be protected and therefore entitle a whistleblower to pursue a claim in the Tribunal. This may result in some of the more spurious ‘whistleblower’ claims not being accepted by the Tribunal.

    A further change to the law in this area (which also came into force in June 2013) is the concept of vicarious liability. Therefore the act of a worker who subjects a whistleblower to detriment is now treated as having been done by the employer (although the employer has a defence if it took all reasonable steps to prevent the detrimental treatment).

    If more employees are blowing the whistle, it is all the more important for employers to implement a whistleblowing policy setting out procedures by which staff can confidentially report concerns about illegal, unethical or otherwise unacceptable conduct.

    At the start the New Year, it is a good time to consider a review of your company policies (including the necessary updates to a whistleblowing policy following the legal changes in 2013). Please contact a member of the Employment Team at Brachers for a quote to carry out a Staff Handbook review.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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