Employers that choose to dismiss or pay off workplace whistleblowers could face further investigation as of next month when the current bar on employment tribunals revealing any details of whistleblowing allegations outside of the tribunal process is lifted.
From 6 April, tribunals will be able to refer claims to the relevant regulatory authority, such as the Serious Fraud Office or Health and Safety Executive, for further investigation.
Mark Hammerton, partner at international law firm Eversheds, said: "To date, even where allegations heard by an employment tribunal involved potentially serious fraud, health and safety breaches or financial irregularities, employment tribunals have been unable to pass them on."
Now that these cases can be passed on, employment lawyers are strongly advising employers to review their policies on whistleblower claims, otherwise they risk the possibility of a serious investigation.
Hammerton added: "I would urge all employers to now review their current procedures and practices for dealing with whistleblowing claims and to ensure any such allegations are addressed as early as possible. Failure to do so could otherwise mean that employers learn of their alleged wrongdoings only once they have escalated to a formal external investigation."
A report published this week by the charity Public Concern at Work has also claimed that whistleblowers still encounter victimisation and are disadvantaged in the workplace.