Otherwise known as ‘whistleblowing’, a protected disclosure is something that, in the reasonable belief of the worker, tends to show that one of following has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur:
- A criminal offence.
- Breach of any legal obligation.
- Miscarriage of justice.
- Danger to the health and safety of any individual.
- Damage to the environment.
- The deliberate concealing of information about any of the above.
Not only must the employee reasonably believe one of the above has occurred, but they must reasonably believe that the disclosure is in the public interest.
Any dismissal of an employee for making a protected disclosure will be automatically unfair.
Employers should consider implementing a whistleblowing policy to set out procedures by which staff can confidentially report such concerns. Confidentiality clauses in contracts of employment cannot be relied upon to prevent external disclosures, as they are unenforceable if the disclosure is “protected”.