The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that an employee’s allegation that a company manipulated profit and loss figures passed the “public interest” test for whistleblower protection. This was despite the employee’s motivation in raising the allegation being the effect of the manipulation on his and other managers’ commission payments.
In Chesterton Global Ltd and anor -v- Nurmohamed, the EAT considered the meaning of the words "in the public interest" which were added into the whistleblowing legislation in 2013. This was to exclude complaints about breaches of a worker's own employment contract from whistleblower protection. The EAT held that the test is not whether the disclosure was itself in the public interest but whether the worker making the disclosure had a reasonable belief that it was. In this case, while Mr Nurmohamed was primarily concerned with his own payments, the EAT was satisfied that he did have other office managers in mind whose income would also be affected by the accounting irregularities.
This decision offers a useful insight into the interpretation of “in the public interest” and provides an element of comfort to prospective whistleblowers by setting the required standard at a relatively low level.