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Dismissed for whistleblowing?

The impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the employment market has been significant. Not only have people been unable to work, those who have been able to have had to adapt to a new way of working.

The restrictions that have been put in place across Scotland and the UK have had an impact on what you can expect from your employer. There are new ways of working that have to be adhered to and health and safety policies have inevitably had to be altered to accommodate this.

Protected Disclosures

Now more than ever employees are likely to be very aware of what an employer should be doing to keep them safe at work. Therefore, where an employer fails to meet the standards expected of them, an employee is entitled to raise concerns about this. This is referred to as making a ‘protected disclosure’ or more commonly known as whistleblowing. If an employee is subsequently dismissed for doing this, and the employee can prove this at a tribunal, it is one of the automatically unfair reasons for dismissal and the employee is entitled to be compensated for this.

Interim Relief

It can take a while for a claim to be heard in the Tribunal and if you have been dismissed, that is potentially a long time without any income. In these particular circumstances the Tribunal recognises this and will in some cases make an award of Interim Relief. Given the length of time it can take for the issue to be resolved at a hearing this award can be hugely beneficial to the dismissed employee. Interim relief can take one of 3 forms:

  1. Reinstatement – employee goes back to working for their employer
  2. Re-engagement – employee goes back to working for the employer but in a different job on terms that are no less favourable and acceptable to the employee
  3. Order for continuation of the employment contract – where the employer refuses to reinstate or re-engage the employee the Tribunal will award this. It gives the employee the right to continue to receive their salary and benefits, and to accrue continuity of service, pending the full hearing. The employee will not be obliged to do any work.

Once an application has been submitted, the Tribunal will arrange for an interim hearing to be held. At this point they will review the case and decide whether to grant the application for interim relief. They will only make the award if they determine that the employee is likely to establish at the full hearing that they were dismissed for making a protected disclosure.

7 Day Limit

If an employee feels they have been dismissed for making a protected disclosure they should seek legal advice as soon as they are dismissed. An award of interim relief will only be granted if the claim is submitted to the Tribunal within 7 days of the ‘effective date of termination’ (EDT). Therefore, it is important to speak to a solicitor immediately to give them time to submit all the necessary documentation to the Tribunal. If you are working a notice period then you can make contact with a solicitor at this point, which gives them more time to prepare the claim.#

It is important not to delay in seeking advice – an interim relief award can make a huge difference if you have been left without a job.

If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed and would like some advice, please contact our Employment Team who would be happy to assist.