What is Whistleblowing?
“Whistleblowing” describes a situation in which an individual raises serious concerns about the events or circumstances at the firm where that individual is employed.
Potential whistleblowers may inform the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority ('the Authority') about relevant serious concerns under the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2021. In doing so they may receive some statutory protection, under the Employment Act 2006, if they suffer detriment from their employer as a result of whistleblowing.
The Employment Act 2006 aims to protect workers who make disclosures about wrongdoing to their employer or to certain other bodies; these are known as ‘protected disclosures’. Under this Act the dismissal of a worker will automatically be deemed unfair if the principal reason for their dismissal is that they have made a protected disclosure in good faith. The Authority does not have the ability to decide whether a disclosure is protected or to intervene. It cannot provide legal advice. Only after the event can an employment tribunal decide whether a disclosure is protected and whether it will result in compensation.
A guide to whistleblowing issued by the Department of Economic Development describes the types of disclosure which may qualify for protection.
Who to raise a whistleblowing concern to?
Individuals should initially raise their concerns with their employer. With effect from 1 January 2017 all regulated entities are obliged to have an internal whistleblowing policy in place. Individuals may also raise serious concerns about regulated entities with the Authority, ideally after raising them directly with their employer, and if they remain unsatisfied at the end of the employer’s process.
What kind of concerns could you raise?
Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of matters of public concern where whistleblowing may be relevant:
- criminal activity;
- financial malpractice or fraud;
- financial mismanagement or corruption;
- material breaches of relevant legislation;
- material risks to the financial services sector/s;
- material breaches of regulatory standards;
- improper conduct or unethical behaviour; and/or
- concealment of any of the above
Under the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2021 individuals can inform the Authority of their serious concerns relating to the above type of matters within regulated entities. Matters reported to the Authority must be of regulatory concern, and should not be related to personal matters such as disputes over pay and contractual rights etc.
How to contact the Authority about a whistleblowing concern?
Should you wish to raise an issue with the Authority, you can leave a voicemail for our dedicated team on 695750. We ask all callers to provide:
- Contact details
- Best time or most appropriate time for the team to call back
- If possible, what the message is concerning e.g. the firm of which the issue is being raised, and background to the issue
If you prefer to write to us, please e-mail email@example.com or write to our postal address at: Isle of Man Financial Services Authority, P O Box 58, Finch Hill House, Bucks Road, Douglas, IM99 1DT.
Do we need to know your name?
We cannot insist that you give us your name, but in order to consider taking any meaningful action, it would be helpful to have your name and a method to contact you away from your workplace.
What will happen to any personal data a whistleblower provides?
Can the identity of a whistleblower become known to their employer?
We appreciate that whistleblowing is a difficult thing to do. We will treat your communication sensitively and will do our best to protect your identity, if you wish. However, we cannot guarantee confidentiality. It may be that we could not pursue enquiries without the source of information becoming apparent, or that disclosure of identity becomes unavoidable in law. If that is the case, we will do our best to make sure that you are told first.
Authority’s approach when handling a whistleblowing disclosure
A confidential discussion will take place with you and an Authority officer. The discussion will cover:
- confirmation of your identity;
- limitations of employee protection rights from detrimental treatment from your employer for reporting a relevant matter in good faith; and
- specifics/facts of the matter.
Afterwards, the Authority Officer/s will consider whether further action is required. If further action is taken, details of the person making the report should remain confidential and no reference is made to the fact that information has been received via whistleblowing.
The type of action that we could take includes:
- making further enquiries, perhaps as part of ongoing or scheduled supervisory touchpoints with the entity, or standalone;
- noting the information in our systems against the entity for use in the supervisory process.
Please be aware that it may not always be possible to disclose what the Authority’s actions are. This is because they may form ‘restricted information’ which statute prohibits us from publicly disclosing. However, where the Authority is able to provide an update they will do so, and the fact that you may not receive an update does not mean action has not been taken.
Are whistleblowers protected from detrimental treatment?
The protection is established by Tynwald under Part IV of the Employment Act 2006, and the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2021. Protection is under employment law (not regulatory law) and means that the dismissal of a worker will be automatically unfair if the principal reason for dismissal is that they have made a protected disclosure in good faith. This means that malicious or vexatious complaints do not receive protection under Employment Law.
If you have any questions about employment law please seek advice from an employment law specialist.
https://protect-advice.org.uk/ - A UK whistleblowing charity for confidential advice to whistleblowers
https://www.wbuk.org/ - A not-for-profit organisation to help, support and provide information to whistleblowers
https://www.raiseaconcern.com/ - An organisation exclusively dedicated to advising on and operating whistleblowing schemes for employers