To whom can a worker "blow the whistle"?

Where a worker makes a public interest disclosure (or blows the whistle), the disclosure is protected under the Employment Rights Act 1996 if the worker makes it to:

  • the employer;
  • another person whom the worker believes to be responsible for the wrongdoing;
  • a legal adviser; or
  • a prescribed person or body listed in the schedule to the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2418) (such as the Environment Agency, the Care Quality Commission or the Health and Safety Executive).

A worker can make a disclosure (and still retain protection under the Act) to a non-prescribed person if certain conditions are met, namely: the worker reasonably believes the information is substantially true; the worker is not making the disclosure for personal gain; and, in all the circumstances, it is reasonable for the worker to make the disclosure. The worker must also: reasonably believe that he or she would be subject to a detriment by the employer if he or she made the disclosure directly to the employer or a prescribed person; reasonably believe that the employer would conceal or destroy evidence if the disclosure were put directly; or have previously made the same disclosure to the employer or a prescribed person to no avail.