Whistblowers should receive greater employment law protection

Greater protection should be afforded to whistleblowing employees by their employers, an eminent employment law academic has said.

Whistleblowing employees and workers are protected from detriment and (in some circumstances) dismissal (as well as being afforded with enhanced rights) if a protected disclosure is made. However, many employees are fearful of raising issues of malpractice in the workplace because they may be dismissed or receive some other detriment (such as a reduction in pay or shunning by their co-workers, for example).

David Lewis, Professor of Employment Law at Middlesex University, has stated that a change in attitude is necessary from employers to ensure that whistleblowers are rewarded and not punished for their conduct. The aim of employment law and commercial practice should be to encourage the highlighting of bad practice in companies and increase accountability in the commercial sector. Instead, employees fear marginalisation and possible dismissal for raising grievances or consulting external advisors (such as lawyers) about malpractice in the workplace.

Professor Lewis went on to state that what was necessary was the encouragement of a culture which reassured and rewarded whistleblowers. Doing so would be more likely to encourage other employees to come forward and confidentially report their own issues. This would be a boost both to the employer as well as the employees working for the firm. It would certainly reduce potential PR disasters made on the internet or in the traditional media.