Whistleblowing in a changing legal climate: is it time to revisit our approach to trust and loyalty at the workplace?



This article suggests that the introduction of employment protection rights for whistleblowers has implications for the way in which trust and loyalty should be viewed at the workplace. In particular, it is argued that the very existence of legislative provisions in the United Kingdom reinforces the notion that whistleblowing should not be regarded as either deviant or disloyal behaviour. Thus, the internal reporting of concerns can be seen as an act of trust and loyalty in drawing the employer's attention to wrongdoing. Equally, external whistleblowing may result from a worker's belief that he or she also has a loyalty to the wider society. Given that the interests of employees do not necessarily coincide with those of their employer and that whistleblowers sometimes suffer reprisals, the author concludes that it is inappropriate to impose a contractual duty to report concerns. Instead, employers should endeavour to promote a culture of openness and create confidence in the mechanisms they provide for whistleblowing.