Increase in whistle blowing allegations since 2012
UK case statistics have shown that more than one in ten cases proceeding through employment tribunals now involves the accusation of whistle blowing; a 2% increase in the last two years.
Whistle blowing is when an employee makes a disclosure to their employer which expresses their concerns about malpractice or wrongdoing at their workplace. Disclosures should ideally be made to the employer but can be made to a prescribed person or body.
What could be the reason behind this sudden increase in whistle blowing allegations since 2012? Here are some possible explanations:
1. Tribunal awards – a claim for compensation for unfair dismissal is capped at 12 months’ pay or £76574. Claims involving protected disclosures do not have a compensation limit.
2. Length of Service – an employee can only bring a claim after two years of service if their contract of employment commenced after the 6th April 2012. Claims involving protected disclosures do not require a qualifying period of service.
Whistle blowing could therefore be regarded as a very useful tool for employees as it eliminates limits which could prevent high earning employees from achieving what they would regard as a proportionate settlement and it allows employees with less than two years service to make a claim.
Unfortunately the increase in whistle blowing allegations since 2012 could be a result of employees attempting to take advantage of the system and exaggerate their dispute which could potentially lead to the claim being thrown out by the Judge and /or costs consequences for the Claimant.
The rules protecting whistleblowers are significant in ensuring that employees can raise valid concerns about malpractice without fear of losing their jobs.
The fairly recent changes to whistle blowing legislation (which occurred on the 25th June 2013 which stated that a disclosure must be in the ‘public interest’) were implicated as a pre cursor to prevent employees misusing the rules to bolster their claim.
In my view if statistics of unsubstantiated whistle blowing claims continue to increase then the legislation is likely to be amended again to make it more difficult for employees to make a claim.
Author: Nicola Williams