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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. This means it must affect others, for example the general public.

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’re protected if you’re a worker, for example you’re:

  • an employee, such as a police officer, NHS employee, office worker, factory worker
  • 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’re 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 does not have the right insurance
  • you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

Concerns that do not count as whistleblowing

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

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. This means it must affect others, such as the general public.

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 decide what to do about it. 

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.

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 litigation and enforcement policy.  

We are unlikely to get in touch with you unless we need more information.

Even if we don’t take immediate action, the information you provide may help to shape our plans for future work.

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.

We may not need to contact you but we do take all concerns seriously and deal with them on a case by case basis. If we need more information we will get in touch if you have agreed that we may do so and have given us your contact details.

Other sources of help

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.

Last updated: 21 Jan 2021