Stormy weather ahead for employers who ignore employee concerns

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By Bhavika Badola

A recent case highlights the potential ease for employee concerns in multiple emails about health and safety to amount to a protected disclosure under whistleblowing legislation and for employees to gain unfair dismissal rights as a result.

Workers and employees who have made a protected disclosure are protected from being subject to a detriment under the whistleblowing provisions set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996; in addition, employees have the right to bring an automatic unfair dismissal claim against the employer if they have been dismissed because they have made a protected disclosure. Importantly, there is no qualifying period of employment for bringing such a claim.

A protected disclosure is a disclosure of information, normally to the employer, about a specified type of malpractice and is more than just an allegation or an expression of opinion. In addition, the worker must have a reasonable belief that one or more of the specified types of malpractice has taken place, is taking place or is likely to take place. Danger to the health and safety of any individual is one of the specified types of malpractice that benefits from whistleblowing protection…

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