What is a whistleblower?

You’re a whistleblower:

  • if you’re a worker; and
  • you report certain types of wrongdoing.

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’re protected by law – you should not 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, but you should get independent advice if you’re not sure you’re protected. You can find out more from Citizens Advice, or seek your own legal advice from your local Citizens Advice or independent legal adviser.

A confidentiality clause or “gagging clause” in a settlement agreement is not 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, 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.

Complaints that do not count as whistleblowing

Personal grievances (for example bullying, harassment, discrimination) are not covered by whistleblowing law, unless your particular case is in the public interest.

Who to tell and what to expect

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.

CILEx Regulation will support and protect any whistleblower who raises a concern with us in good faith. Our Whistleblowing Policy sets out how we will deal with any reports of serious misconduct or risk to the public.

If you’re treated unfairly after whistleblowing

You can take a case to an employment tribunal if you’ve been treated unfairly because you’ve blown the whistle.

You can get further information from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), Citizens’ Advice, the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work or your trade union.