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/ 22 Feb 2013

How long can a Worker blow the whistle?

For quite some time according to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

In the case of ‘Onyango v Berkeley Solicitors’, the EAT held that a Claimant could bring a case under section 47B of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA), where they claimed detrimental treatment as a result of making a protected disclosure (whistle-blowing) after their employment had been terminated.

The EAT, in coming to their decision, looked at the definition of a ‘Worker’, which under the Act includes “those who are or have ceased to be in a contractual relationship of service or core service”. So for the purposes of whistle-blowing cases a Claimant is still a Worker even if no longer employed by the Respondent.

In the case of ‘Onyango’ the ‘detrimental treatment’ had not yet been established. The writer would suggest that such treatment, following the termination of the Worker’s employment and subsequent whistle-blowing, could include:

1. Withholding bonus payments;
2. Refusing to pay wages owed; and
3. Refusing to provide a reference or providing a negative reference.

The conclusion is that a Worker cannot be treated detrimentally as a result of whistle-blowing, even if this occurs after the Worker’s employment has ceased.

If you are affected by this ruling or have a separate Employment query then please do not hesitate to contact our Employment Team, who offer advice on all aspects of Employment Law. Call Hanne & Co on 020 7228 0017 or email info@hanne.co.uk

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