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Whistleblowing is a term often used as shorthand to cover the legal protection offered to certain groups of people who make 'protected disclosures'.
There are two areas of protection:
  • employees are protected from dismissal if the reason, or principal reason, for their dismissal is that they have made a 'protected disclosure'
  • workers are protected from being subjected to any detriment on the grounds that they have made a protected disclosure.
The legislation applies when an employee or worker:
  • makes a qualifying disclosure (the information disclosed must fall under one or more of the six headings set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996)
  • the disclosure is made to the right person
  • the worker or employee is then subjected to a detriment, or dismissed.

Employees or workers in this position can complain to an employment tribunal and compensation is uncapped.

Organisations should have a whistleblowing policy to:
  • encourage openness in the workplace
  • encourage disclosures to be made in a reasonable way (for example, not to the press)
  • provide guidance to managers on how to deal with whistleblowers
  • assist when defending claims where correct procedures have not been followed by employees.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 introduced changes to whistleblowing law with effect from 25 June 2013.

Recent developments

New Vento guidelines published

Used to calculate awards for injury to feelings in whistleblowing claims, the vento bands will be increasing for claims presented after 6 April 2022. Claims presented before that date, even if heard after, will be subject to the previous limit. 

Vento bands Claims presented on or after 6 April 2020 Claims presented on or after 6 April 2021 Claims presented on or after 6 April 2022
Lower band £900 to £9,000 £900 to £9,100 £990 to £9,900
Middle band £9,000 to £27,000 £9,100 to £27,400 £9,900 to £29,600
Upper band £27,000 to £45,000 £27,400 to £45,600 £29,600 to £49,300

Only in exceptional cases will compensation awards for injury to feelings exceed the upper band.