Reporting a Colleague for Misconduct – Whistleblowing Guide

Most of us will have a grievance with a work colleague at some time or other but these are usually ironed out pretty quickly. If you can’’t resolve your issue, you might be wondering how to report a colleague. There are usually procedures in place for you to take the matter further.

How to Report a Colleague

It may begin with speaking with your immediate supervisor who may get you and the other person around a table whether formally or informally to try to resolve the situation. And, if that doesn’t work, you might care to take it to the HR department or even you’re Trade Union Representative, if you have one. In serious cases, you may need to follow your company’’s Grievance Procedure further and you may choose to resort to taking your case to an Employment Tribunal.

However, what if you discover a colleague is guilty of some kind of act of gross misconduct within the company? They might not be affecting you directly but it could have major implications for the company, you and your fellow co-workers indirectly if their behaviour continues? This is quite a delicate subject and one which is often referred to as ‘whistleblowing’.

What is a Whistleblower?

It is an employee or can be a former employee who reports misconduct within a company or some other organisation to people or organisations that have the ability and the power to take action to rectify the situation. In general, the misconduct is related to a violation of the law, regulations, rules and / or behaviour which is a direct threat to public interest or to the rest of the workforce in general.

Pros and Cons of Reporting Misconduct

Whistleblowing can be perceived in many different ways. To some people, you’’ll be thanked profusely for highlighting some serious malpractice that has taken place within the workplace – a common example being reporting a serious breach of health and safety regulations which could affect many, if not all, people who work at a particular place.

However, to others, depending on the nature of your ‘revelations’, you could be perceived as a ‘snitch’. For the most part your decision to ‘blow the whistle’ will usually be welcomed by the vast majority, if not all of the people who have an interest, if they can see that they too, could have been damaged or harmed in some way by the actions not being revealed.

Legal Protection for Whistleblowers

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects people who ‘blow the whistle’ about workplace malpractice. The following disclosures only are protected:

  • Health and safety issues
  • Environmental risk
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • A crime
  • The breach of a legal obligation
  • An attempt to conceal any of the above

And in order to qualify for protection, a worker would usually have to make the disclosure to their employer, a legal adviser, a government minister or an external regulatory body. He/she can also complain to a tribunal if they feel they have become penalised as a result of their disclosure.

Considerations Before Reporting Misconduct

Reporting a colleague or a wider workplace issue’ can radically change your life. You could be praised for your actions but you could easily be made a social outcast and vilified by the rest of your colleagues if you haven’t thought your case through fully first. Some questions you should ask yourself before going ahead might be:

  • Is this the only solution?
  • Do I have hard evidence including documents and/or filmed or audio footage to back my claims up?
  • What is my motive?
  • Am I prepared for any ramifications of my actions and do I want to subject my family to these also?

If you can be satisfied with the answers you can give to these questions, believe you are acting from a proper ethical and moral standpoint on behalf of yourself and others and you can muster support from potential allies such as journalists, elected officials, activists etc., then you may decide to take the decision to ‘blow the whistle’ where you can see that the behaviour of a colleague(s) or even your employer can cause serious harm and damage to a person(s), and it’s in all of your interests to bring this to greater attention. It is, however, something you must seriously think through carefully as it could change your life for ever.

7 thoughts on “Reporting a Colleague for Misconduct – Whistleblowing Guide

  1. Izzy says:

    I have a manager at work who will often ask myself and others to work on their lunch break. This wouldn’t be a problem but she never allows you to ‘make the time up’ and resume your lunch. I’ve been working at my place for over a year now and it hasn’t changed and I’ve tried explaining to her that employees have to take a lunch break. The reason I’m asking for advice is because she is best friends of my head manager and best friends with the store owner and any attempt at explaining certain actions is never dealt with so I’m at a loss of what to do

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Izzy – Why not print a copy out of the legislation (see oveview below) to give it to your manager. You could also point out that not taking a break affects your productivity and concentration (the latter a potential H & S risk). If your employer persistently breaks this, you and your colleagues should raise a grievance in writing in accordance with your employer’s grievance procedure. If this is unsatisfactory, then call ACAS for advice about further action.
      Legislation states that: “Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during their working day (this could be a tea or lunch break), if they work more than 6 hours a day. Employers can say when employees take rest breaks during work time as long as: the break is taken in one go somewhere in the middle of the day – away from where they actually work. It doesn’t count as a rest break if an employer says an employee should go back to work before their break is finished.”

  2. Alessia says:

    My assistant manager has always had a bad attitude toward me since the day I first started over 6 months ago. It’s progressed from ignoring any questions I have and excluding me from any conversation between the colleagues, to shouting at me in front of customers, pushing past me, or blocking an entrance then ignoring me when I’ve asked to get past. After 4 months of treatment like this, I took it to my manager with a written list of every incident that I felt had been unprofessional, and he said he would “have a word with her”. After two more shifts at work I was unconvinced he had said anything as she was still acting the same towards me, so I talked to him again about it. He sat me down and wrote a couple of the incidents down i.e her making me do all the tasks whilst she sat and chat to her friend (another colleague) but then told me that I was sensitive and it was obviously effecting my judgement of the situation. He also told me that I had to learn to “get along with her” because she’s just got “an abrupt personality”, and the other colleagues who were offering to vouch for me on certain situations had told him the opposite of what I had reported. I checked with my colleagues who said they had told our manager what had happened but he then dismissed it. As my area manager is best friends with the manager and assistant manager, I don’t feel like anything would be done about the situation either. I was told by my manager that we would all sit down and work out a plan of action to get this sorted out, but after a month, it still hasn’t happened. I feel like taking this to head office would be a bit too much, so I don’t know what to do about it to get it to stop.

  3. Kate says:

    Hi, I’m looking here for my friend actually. She works as a care worker for the elderly in a zero hour contract, and she has worked in this demanding and underpaid job for 5 years now. She loves the work she does and the elderly clients she works with as well as most her colleagues, yet her area manager is an absolute nightmare. She blackmails them into horrendous shift choices by manipulating the zero hour contract such that if they say they can’t do such and such shifts for good reasons, they essentially get penalized for the following month by getting difficult or very limited hours. Her conduct is very poor, and questionable, once she bears a grudge against you, but this extends to clients too. I thought my friend was exaggerating her behaviour, but then I heard the conversation for myself where my friend had called concerned about a younger (29) paraplegic client who had not been visited that evening, and the manager gave some cock and bull story that he had refused to answer the door, and that he can just stay in his chair for the night. My friend has attempted to make a formal complaint about this manager’s negative behaviour three times, and every time the higher managerial staff members have made it difficult for her, and always turned it around such that my friend is scrutanised and victimised. I her last attempt to complain about her behaviour my friend came away with a final written warning, which was light as they had told her she could receive gross misconduct and never work with the elderly again, despite having done nothing wrong. The manager had simply accused her of various episodes of misconduct that were not true, finally ending with bullying. Now on returning to work having been inexplicably suspended she has scheduled her 4 hours in the next next fortnight. With 3 of those being trips being further in petrol costs than what she would make hourly. It is not just her being persecuted either, but the other staff members that made the initial formal complaint about the manager. I’ve resorted to writing for advice here because I simply can’t see a way out for her and the other girls. Going higher up in the system is always coming down harder on the girls, and this horrendous woman has always gotten away with it. They just don’t seem to have a system in place to make the complaints in confidence.

  4. Tee says:

    My manager has now decided to be rude to all the colleagues and give us a lot of unnecessary attitude for no reason. She takes me off the rota and puts me back on whenever she feels like without giving any form of explanation and she also cuts my hours, and when I ask her for more when my friend is unable to work, she always says there’s no hours. Recently, she took me off the rota and I asked her in our work group chat about me being removed and she was very unprofessional by not replying, and continued to talk about other things going on in the store.

  5. Concerned says:

    I work in food retail and there is an incident that occurred. The area manager of the store I work in ‘assumed’ that I quit after I removed myself from the work groupchat, that was because I recently changed my number and asked the store manger to add the new one instead. I also requested for 3 days off which I gave significant notice for and was granted those days off, yet those were also the days I was put on the rota. When I returned I found out that my name was removed from the group chat and rota plus I didn’t receive any payment for my work. What I don’t understand is even if I did quit, how could you deny me my payment? I discovered that I was not the only person that this has happened to, that were a number of other cases which the area manger would fired an employee and deny them their pay. There is one employee that wasn’t even notified that she was fired. She was also removed from the group chat, and wasn’t able to get through to the AM as he was blocking her calls. She was later informed that she did not receive her pay because she refused to hand in her work keys when fired and because of this they had to change the locks. This is ridiculous because she was owed more than £300 and an employee from her store stated that the locks were never changed. Plus she was never formal informed of her dismissal nor asked for the keys back. I learnt that that is how the AM works, he doesn’t inform anyone that he is planning to fire instead he removes their names from the GC and stops their payments. I don’t know what to do or how to go forward, but this is an abuse of power. I have since been asked back to work and was told that it was down to miscommunication but that I am aware what he has been doing I don’t want to stay silent. Any advice as to what action can be taken?

  6. Gb says:

    What do you do when your sister breaks the Covid 19 ‘bubble of 6 rules’ on Christmas Day and then intends to break them further in a tier 4 lockdown situation? By taking lunch to he parents -who have a full time live in carer? Should we inform her employer- the NHS trust where she works? She is now putting patients and her family at risk by trying to be kind! Any advice? Thanks

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