When you’re an employer you can sometimes find yourself in a difficult position regarding protecting your reputation and still abiding by whistleblowing legislation. Of course, you will want to do all you can to ensure that your company’s reputation isn’t affected by any whistleblowing but, it is important to understand the law in this regard.
What is whistleblowing?
Simply put, whistleblowing is the term that is used when a worker passes on information concerning wrongdoing. Raising concerns regarding wrongdoing can be called “making a disclosure” or “blowing the whistle”. The information regarding wrongdoing can be reported both internally or externally.
The whistleblowing law
You will find the Whistleblowing law in the Employment Rights Act 1996, which was amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 to introduce increased protection for whistleblowers. This law states that a worker has the right to take a case to an employment tribunal if they have been victimised at work or lost their job because they have ‘blown the whistle’.
To be covered by this law, a worker must reasonably believe two things when blowing the whistle. The first being that they are acting in the public interest and the second that the disclosure shows past, present or likely future wrongdoing.
Protecting your reputation after whistleblowing in the correct way
It is obviously in all employer’s best interests to uncover wrongdoing within their business but, you will also want to manage what information reaches the outside world in this regard. Ideally, you should be encouraging any reporting of wrongdoing internally to avoid any scandals. It goes without saying that an external disclosure of wrongdoing, especially to the press, will lead to negative publicity for your business.
In the event that information is published publically regarding your company’s wrongdoing, you may wish to make a statement to protect your reputation. However, you must tread carefully when making statements to ‘put the record straight’ on whistleblowing information. Statements that you make can be seen as detriments even if your sole motivation is to get your side of the story out and protect your reputation.
If taken to an Employment Tribunal, your motive for making a statement is a key factor when assessing why a statement was made. Ultimately, unless it can be proven that the statement was made for a reason unconnected with the whistleblower’s disclosure, it will be classed as an unlawful detriment.
To protect yourself and your business, when responding to stories which originate from an employee’s whistleblowing and releasing statements you should take the time to consider whether it is really necessary to do so. Also, think about why you’re actually making a statement, is it to put the record straight or to discredit the whistleblower. Lastly, you should always ensure that the content in the statement is accurate and not misleading in any way.
Of course, if you find yourself in a situation where you would like to make a statement but, you’re unsure what to say and worried about the statement being considered detrimental to a whistleblower then you can seek advice. An employment law specialist will be able to assist you in this regard.
How Nationwide Employment Lawyers can help
If you ever find yourself in the situation where you’re trying to protect your reputation after whistleblowing and you require some professional assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experienced team at Nationwide Employment Lawyers. We are incredibly familiar with the laws surrounding whistleblowing and are the perfect people to provide you with the advice and support you require.
You can trust that Nationwide Employment Lawyers will provide you with an extremely high standard of service at a lower cost than the majority of other comparable firms. We operate as a modern, efficient and highly skilled team and, will do all we can help shoulder the burden at this stressful time.