1. 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, eg the general public.

As a whistleblower you’re protected by law - you shouldn’t be treated unfairly or lose your job because you ‘blow the whistle’.

You can raise your concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or you believe will happen in the near future.

Who is protected by law

You’re protected if you’re a worker, eg 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 independent advice if you’re not sure you’re protected, eg from Citizens’ Advice.

A confidentiality clause or ‘gagging clause’ in a settlement agreement isn’t valid if you’re a whistleblower.

Complaints that count as whistleblowing

You’re protected by law if you report any of the following:

  • a criminal offence, eg 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, eg doesn’t have the right insurance
  • you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

Complaints that don’t count as whistleblowing

Personal grievances (eg bullying, harassment, discrimination) aren’t 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.