2. What is whistleblowing?
Someone ‘blows the whistle’ when they tell their employer, a regulator, customers, the police or the media about a dangerous or illegal activity that they are aware of through their work.
Whistleblowing can inform those who need to know about health and safety risks, potential environmental problems, fraud, corruption, deficiencies in the care of vulnerable people, cover ups and many other problems. Often, it is only through whistleblowing that this information comes to light and can be addressed before real damage is done.
What is the difference between making a complaint and blowing the whistle?
When someone blows the whistle they are raising a concern about danger or illegality that affects others (for example customers, members of the public, or their employer). The person blowing the whistle is usually not directly, personally affected by the danger or illegality. Consequently, the whistleblower rarely has a personal interest in the outcome of any investigation into their concern – they are simply trying to alert others. For this reason, the whistleblower should not be expected to prove the malpractice. He or she is a messenger raising a concern so that others can address it.
This is very different from a complaint or grievance. When someone complains or raises a grievance, they are saying that they have been personally treated poorly. This poor treatment could involve a breach of their individual employment rights or bullying and the complainant is seeking redress or justice for themselves. The person making the complaint therefore has a vested interest in the outcome of the complaint and for this reason, is expected to prove their case.
For these reasons, it is not in anyone’s interest if an individual uses this policy to pursue a personal grievance. For personal complaints or grievances, please use the Grievance Policy and Procedure instead.