The whistleblowing charity, Protect, has revealed in a report that a fifth of whistleblowers who rang their helpline had been dismissed after raising concerns with their employers about coronavirus (COVID-19).

The report, entitled “The best warning system: whistleblowing during Covid-19” also found that four in ten employees (41 per cent) who expressed concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19) in their workplace were ignored by their employers.

In addition, the study found that managers were even more likely to be dismissed for raising concerns about the pandemic than non-managers – 32 per cent compared to 21 per cent respectively.

In terms of issues being raised, the majority of cases were to do with furlough fraud and risks to public safety, such as a lack of social distancing and the supply of personal protective equipment in the workplace.

The report also revealed that furlough fraud was committed mainly by small organisations. That is those employing between one and 49 employees.

The charity recommends that the government:

  • Introduces a legal standard on employers to have whistleblowing arrangements in place, including a requirement to give whistleblowers feedback on the concerns that they raise;
  • Introduces a penalty regime where an organisation can be fined or sanctioned for breaching whistleblowing standards;
  • Introduces new legal standards on all regulators to ensure they deal effectively and promptly with whistleblowing concerns that have been raised with them;
  • Steps up efforts to ensure that regulators drive up standards of whistleblowing arrangements amongst entities they regulate; and
  • Takes steps to reform legal aid and whistleblowing law in order to ensure that whistleblowers who are treated badly or who are dismissed have an effective remedy.


The study was the result of an analysis of more than 600 calls to the charity’s advice line between March and September 2020.

You can read the report in full here.

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