The number of employees claiming to have been sacked, mistreated or bullied for exposing corrupt practices at work has increased tenfold over the last decade, according to official figures – and raising health and safety issues remains one of the top concerns.
Whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work (PCAW) has called on the government and employers to do more to encourage people to speak up about malpractice or wrongdoing by publicising existing support and legal protection for workplace whistleblowers.
Commenting on the release of ‘Where’s whistleblowing now – 10 years of legal protection for whistleblowers’, its report into ten years of the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA), the legislation intended to protect from reprisal workers who raise a matter of public concern, PCAW director Catherine Wolthuizen said: “Workers in the UK are increasingly prepared to speak up about wrongdoing in the workplace, but the ever-rising number of Employment Tribunal claims for victimisation demonstrates employers need to do more to protect their staff from retribution.”
Employment tribunal statistics show that the total number of people using the PIDA whistleblowing legislation, which aims to protect workers from victimisation if they have exposed wrongdoing, increased from 157 cases in 1999 to 1,791 ten years later.
Workplace safety is the second most common reason individuals contact the PCAW helpline, accounting for 17 per cent of all calls, topped only by financial malpractice at 26 per cent. A PCAW breakdown of “types of wrongdoing in PIDA judgments” says 12 per cent of these tribunal decisions relate to work safety, behind only financial malpractice (19 per cent) and “consumer/competition and regulation” (13 per cent).