Whistleblowers more likely to get fired during pandemic

Source: ILO/Nguyễn ViệtThanh

Protect, UK main’s whistleblowing support charity, has seen a 5% rise in whistleblowers dismissed for whistleblowing since last October.

According to Louise O’Neill, Head of Communications, retail and hospitality were the sectors Protect saw most furlough fraud in.

Workplace furlough fraud made up 62% of Covid-19 cases to Protect’s
Advice Line — the fastest emerging issue the charity has dealt with in its
history.

Overall, 2020 was a record year in terms of the number of whistleblowers needing advice, up 20% from 2019:

Protect has been recently advocating for a review of current Whistleblowing law, O’Neill says:

In particular, the importance of confidentiality and feedback are paramount in these cases as many whistleblowers feared victimisation. Regards practical steps, we invite the government and HMRC to make this assurance to whistleblowers and expressly and clearly state on their website that they will only pursue employers, not employees, who have abused the scheme.

We are today (March 23) writing to BEIS Minister Kwasi Kwarteng seeking clarification on what reviews of whistleblowing rules actually means and whether public consultation is planned.

The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng, recently nominated as The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), a Conservative MP for Spelthorne, has stated his commitment to post-Brexit workers’ rights in a debate on the House of Commons on 25 January, 2021: “We have delivered Brexit, and we will not use this new-found freedom to reduce workers’ rights”.

Meanwhile, on the other side the Channel, an ‘EU Directive on Whistleblowing’ entered into force on the 16 December, 2019. Member states have until 17, December 2021 to incorporate it into their legal and institutional systems. Although the directive is considered by some analysts problematic, it is also seen as a step forward when compared to current UK law.

In response to a request for comment, A BEIS spokesperson said:

No worker should lose their job for whistleblowing, and our current regime makes clear that it is unacceptable for an employer to dismiss someone for passing on information concerning wrongdoing.

We have upgraded the whistleblowing regime to provide support for those who speak up and ensure they are treated fairly at work, including providing guidance on how workers can make disclosures while retaining their employment protections. We will be reviewing these reforms to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

For a review of current law and whistleblowing resources, check out the UK whistleblowing, a non definitive resource guide.

Furlough Fraud, Whistleblowing, DarkWeb, Data Journalism, #Birmingham (researcher/journalist)