I have challenged my manager about the safety risks in the workplace, but they are not doing anything about it, can I take it higher and ‘whistle blow’?

Last updated: 22 May 2020

If you are concerned about safety risks, such as your manager not adopting social distancing or not providing suitable PPE, you can raise this with someone more senior within the organisation, or with the Health & Safety Executive. You should not be treated unfairly for raising these legitimate concerns.

Under the Employment Rights Act, workers are protected against being subjected to a detriment by their employer for disclosing information in the public interest.

The right not to be subjected to a detriment for whistleblowing applies to all workers, not just employees. Additionally employees have the right not to be dismissed for making a public interest disclosure. These rights apply to all, regardless of how long they have been employed.

To succeed in a claim the worker needs to firstly show that their disclosure was a ‘qualifying’ one, which includes where the health and safety of any individual has been, is being, or is likely to be endangered. It is the ‘reasonable belief’ of the person making the disclosure which is important.

Secondly, the worker needs to be able to show that it was a ‘protected’ disclosure, which means the disclosure must be made appropriately. This will usually be where the disclosure is made to the employer, perhaps to senior management or to a designated officer for raising concerns. Alternatively you can raise complaints to the Health and Safety Executive.

In some limited circumstances you can raise the concern externally, but you should always seek advice about this before making the disclosure.

It is important that workers feel secure that they can blow the whistle on safety issues at work, particularly at this time. Usually a collective approach to these problems will be best, so you should seek specific advice from your Prospect or BECTU officer.

See Prospect’s members’ guide to whistleblowing for more information.

This page is designed to give general information about members’ rights on returning to work. It does not cover all circumstances and should not be treated as a definitive answer. Members should contact Prospect either through the Member Contact Centre on 0300 600 1878 or contact their union rep or full-time officer for specific advice.