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Whistleblowing is a term used for disclosing wrongdoing within your organisation. Workers who make what is known as a 'protected disclosure' are protected from suffering a detriment as a result of coming forward. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 states than an employee who is dismissed as a result of making a protected disclosure will automatically be unfairly dismissed and therefore entitled to bring a claim for compensation at the Employment Tribunal.

Mr Smith was employed by the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust for 28 years and had an "unblemished" career.  Mr Smith was also a Trade Union representative for the Royal College of Nursing. During 2013 and 2014, Mr Smith made a number of protected disclosures about medication and patient care issues.  He also claimed that staff were being bullied and harassed by managers as well as not being provided sufficient rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations.  Following Mr Smith's disclosures he was invited to a meeting with the organisation's Head of Nursing and HR Representative. He was later informed by a number of colleagues that they believed there was a "witch hunt" against him as a Practitioner in the operating department had begun gathering statements of evidence against him. 

In April 2014, Mr Smith raised further concerns regarding staff recruitment, retention payments, rest breaks, allegations of bullying and a lack of equipment and resources.  The NHS Trust then alleged that Mr Smith was displaying "disruptive behaviour" and had been sending confidential and sensitive emails to his personal email address. Mr Smith was subjected to disciplinary proceedings in July 2014 for gross misconduct.  He was subsequently dismissed in July 2015. 

The Employment Tribunal in East London found in 2017 that Mr Smith had been unfairly dismissed and subject to detriment because he had made protected disclosures.  Following an appeal by the NHS Trust last month, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that Mr Smith had in fact been dismissed due to his protected disclosure and last month awarded Mr Smith £127,389.75 in compensation.

This is a case in which employers should be mindful of, particularly if their workers bring issues which are considered to be of the public interest to their attention as failure to sufficiently investigate or subjecting such individual to a detriment could potentially have significant financial impacts.

If you require any assistance dealing with any employment law issues related to whistleblowing do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment Team on 01522 814638.