Today we look at whistleblowing, which can be defined as when an employee discloses information about their employer that is in the public interest and shows a breach of rules, law or is adverse to health and safety.
If an employee is dismissed because of having made a public interest disclosure, they shall be regarded as having been automatically unfairly dismissed (entitling them to compensation).
The case this week asks the question of whether an employee who has been dismissed (and later brings a whistleblowing claim) can ever be entitled to compensation whilst they await their hearing?
This question is currently particularly important, as claimants face increasingly lengthy waits to get their cases heard at tribunal.
Interim Relief therefore represents a handy means for claimants to keep afloat financially whilst they await their tribunal date and potential pay out.
Mr. Faria was employed by Lycamobile as their Group General Counsel. He had recently raised concerns about the company’s response to the coronavirus pandemic from a health and safety perspective, and shortly afterwards found himself without a job having been dismissed.
Lycamobile maintain that the reason for his dismissal was that he secretly recorded conversations with colleagues about the company’s response to the virus.
Mr. Faria however maintains that he was dismissed because of his decision to raise concerns about the company’s coronavirus policies themselves.
The full trial is yet to be heard at tribunal, but Mr. Faria did however apply for what is known as ‘Interim Relief’ in the meantime.
Interim Relief can be ordered where the judge considers it ‘likely’ that the employee was indeed dismissed because of his decision to blow the whistle, and it has the effect of allowing the employee to continue to receive his full wages and all associated benefits whilst he awaits hearing of the claim.
In other words, a judge can order Interim Relief in a whistleblowing case where he considers it likely that the true reason for dismissal was whistleblowing. This has the effect of entitling the employee to his ordinary pay whilst he awaits the full hearing.
Luckily for Mr. Faria, the employment judge did consider it likely that the true reason for his dismissal was whistleblowing, and therefore awarded him Interim Relief.
Interim Relief is a rare outcome, but it appears that tribunals are willing to grant it where they consider it likely that the true reason for dismissal was whistleblowing (as opposed to any reason purported by the employer). It may be that we see more of this remedy in the coming months, as employees begin to question their employer’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and potentially face dismissal for doing so.