A recent EAT case has reminded lawyers of the need to plead whistleblowing cases in detail and with clarity. Each disclosure of claimed wrongdoing should be set out in chronological order as should each alleged detriment suffered by the employee for having raised the issues. It is not sufficient to refer to a host of written or spoken comments and then collectively label these as serious concerns worthy of protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.
What can employers learn from the case?
A prudent HR manager will listen carefully to each concern raised by the individual, however outlandish or emotional it may appear. A brief statement that matters will be addressed could lead to an accusation of ignoring the concerns. Rather, the employer should review each allegation and either respond to it or state that it will be investigated.
The EAT reminds us of the need for employers to be patient with whistleblowers, even if they appear unreasonable in the way they are conducting themselves. It is possible to discipline a whistleblower who, regardless of the nature of their complaint, puts their concerns forward in an offensive manner. The EAT cites the example of a whistleblower ringing the Managing Director at home at 3am when there was no need to do so. However, the EAT stresses caution. It reminds employers that whistleblowers often do make themselves unpopular. The whole area of whistleblowing is perhaps one where the patient employer will be rewarded in the long run should an employee seek to make a claim at Tribunal.