Third of workers would turn a blind eye to illegal or dangerous activity by employer for fear of losing jobs

Manchester Evening News  10 SEPTEMBER 2015
BY TODD FITZGERALD

Research revealed that the number of people who would consider blowing the whistle rose to 67pc if they could complain anonymously


A third of British workers would turn a blind eye to illegal or dangerous activity by their employer through fear of the repercussions, research by Manchester solicitors has revealed.

More than 50pc of respondents in a survey by Manchester employment law specialists Slater and Gordon said they would keep quiet if bosses were up to no good because they would be scared of losing their job.

Others said they would fear how would be treated by colleagues after coming forward – and if they’d even be believed.

But research revealed that the number of people who would consider blowing the whistle rose to 67pc if they could complain anonymously.

North West Trades Union Congress regional secretary, Lynn Collins, said: “These figures are worrying. Workers should be supported in speaking out about illegal or dangerous practices – after all it isn’t likely to be for their own benefit that they would speak out.

“The statistics show us that the balance of power in a workplace is tilted in favour of the employer and that should be tackled.

“This underlines the need for strong trade unions in the workplace. Where unions are present in work, they can ensure whistle blowers are protected and supported.

“Policies on such matters are often in place in unionised workplaces. It’s also likely that such practices would be raised by trade unions present in the workplace on behalf of their members, giving workers a voice on such issues.”

The study of 2,000 workers showed almost half – 49pc – said they would come forward if they had legal protection from being mistreated and would get financial compensation if they were sacked. And 17pc said they would speak out if there was a cash reward.


A quarter said they would keep quiet out of loyalty to their employer – and more than a fifth said they would feel it wasn’t any of their business to speak out.

Results revealed that 16pc of people had spoken out, with almost half of those exposing health and safety breaches. Some 29pc said they had raised concern over illegal activity.

Over half of those who had exposed wrongdoing said they were treated differently after coming forward, with 30pc saying they were constantly criticised by their boss.

And one in 10 were fired or made redundant after speaking out.

One respondent said they had reported colleagues who drove trains for smoking cannabis at work. Another raised concerns over a doctor who was secretly filming patients.

Other examples included employers avoiding tax; document forgery; stealing; witness harassment; and bullying.

Employment lawyer Samantha Mangwana said: “It is alarming that a third of people are scared to come forward and expose even the most serious wrongdoing at work because they are concerned about the repercussions.

“The fact that a large percentage of people said they wouldn’t speak out, even if they saw the law being broken, illustrates just how worried people are about what will happen to them if they do.

“It takes a lot of bravery to blow the whistle, but it needn’t be as terrifying as some people seem to think as long as they get the right legal advice.

“Being able to remain anonymous would make a big difference to employees’ thinking when it comes to speaking out, while a lot of people said they would blow the whistle if they would be protected.

“Our research shows most people don’t know that there are laws in place to protect whistleblowers – 63pc.”

4 thoughts on “Third of workers would turn a blind eye to illegal or dangerous activity by employer for fear of losing jobs

  1. I have reported many times and suffered. Dangerous staffing levels (reported to owners & CQC & in a grievance), Lack of training of care assistants. An unsafe working environment (reported to the company (verbally in 2012 & in grievance 2014) Taking violent unsuitable residents without an assessment (reported to CQC) With all this and residents fighting another resident was able to get hold of tablets that weren’t hers and took some. She went to hospital after an hours delay by North East Ambulance and kept over night.
    I was hit with a sledge hammer. First Durham County Safeguarding accused me of failing to get emergency help. REALLY! The 1st 999 call was made within minutes. The second 999 call 20 minutes later and the 3rd 999 call 20 minutes after that I was about to make a 4th call when the ambulance arrived. it had come half a mile from the station. That accusation was dropped as I had used my mobile because Care UK phone didnt work and I had the log. Durham Safeguarding refused to investigate the delay
    I was falsely accused of putting false dates onto medicine bottles. As the manager used a senior care assistant who falsified medicine audits every month which I had reported to CQC, that was allegation was dropped. She had access to the medicine cupboard
    I kept the resident awake waiting for the ambulance by tapping her face just enough to keep her awake. Had I pinched her ear she would have become violent. I was accused of assault despite there being no physical, photographic or medical evidence.
    Next I was accused of failing to store a CD safely. It was lorazepam which every nurse knows is a POM and the receiving, checking, storing and administration is completely different. But Penpushers at NMC are still trying to stick with this one as a CD
    So what started out as 6 allegations sent to NMC One by one they have disappeared, leaving the NMC with one they are clinging to
    .
    Then the NMC shot themselves in the foot big time. They sent me the case notes of another nurse, witness statements and medical records of 21 patients. I did inform them and was subject to a barrage of abuse and threats from them, demanding that I gave a time and date for a courier to pick it up. The threats were in bold and underlined If I didn’t XYZ would happen. So I contacted the Information Commissioners Office who insisted I sent the case notes and the emails and letters from NMC to them.
    I was so angy with the way I was treated I have responded by 1, I have blocked the NMC on my PC 2, I have instructed The NMC to stop sending me letters 3, Having received 2 letters from the NMC I have returned them to sender unopened.
    I am now 70 and have not worked for 2 years as my health was less than 100% I have resigned in writing and my GP who knows the home, has told the NMC I have retired on medical grounds but the NMC are not listening They have their knife in me.
    We they can get on with it There is nothing they can do to me. Its nurses money being spent on this mot mine. I haven’t paid fees for 2 years NMC and their stakeholder are sticking together

  2. Potential whistleblowers know that the apparent security offered by law frequently falls short when push comes to shove. We need stronger protection from courts, tribunals, ombudsmen, etc to overcome this very real threat to employees.

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