What is a whistleblower   

You are a whistleblower if you are a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing. This will usually be something you have seen at work - though not always.

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 are 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 are protected if you are a worker, for example you are: 

  • 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) 

A confidentiality clause or ‘gagging clause’ in a settlement agreement is not valid if you are a whistleblower. 

Complaints that count as whistleblowing 

You are 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.

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.

See also: