In Norbrook Laboratories (GB) Ltd v Shaw, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decided that three emails from a manager raising concerns about the dangers of driving in snow amounted to a ‘qualifying disclosure’, thereby providing that manager with protection under the whistleblowing legislation.
What does this mean?
A disclosure of information is protected if it shows that the health and safety of any individual is in danger. The employee in this case sent three emails to different people, querying whether the company had a snow policy and expressing personal knowledge that it was dangerous to drive in the snow. The EAT decided that these emails communicated the information required to be a “qualifying disclosure”. It was previously decided by the EAT in Goode v Marks and Spencers plc that numerous communications may be read together to meet the requirements of a qualifying disclosure, even if each email taken separately did not.
What should we do?
Employers should take note of any information received from employees (as opposed to opinions or allegations) alerting them to the danger of the health and safety of any of its employees and should investigate all concerns. Whistleblowing training should be provided for managers to help them identify when a disclosure is being made and the special protection which applies to employees in these circumstances. If an email or communication received makes reference to any previous communication, all such communications should be considered together to ascertain whether the employee has “blown the whistle”.