Last reviewed 16 November 2020

A charity has warned that some 4 in 10 employees who raise Covid-19 concerns are being ignored by their employers, while 1 in 5 were reportedly dismissed for raising concerns.

The claims are made in a new report on whistleblowing in the context of Covid-19 from the UK charity Protect.

The charity runs an advice line for whistleblowers and supports more than 3000 cases each year.

Protect says it has been inundated with Covid-19 whistleblowing concerns and that many are of an extremely serious nature, such as relating to employers fraudulently claiming public money.

The charity’s new report examines more than 600 Covid-19 calls to the charity’s advice line between March and September 2020. The majority of cases were over furlough fraud and risk to public safety, such as a lack of social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace.

Some of the key findings of the report were:

  • 41% of whistleblowers had Covid-19 concerns ignored by employers

  • 20% of whistleblowers were dismissed for raising Covid-19 concerns

  • managers were more likely to be dismissed for raising Covid-19 concerns, with 32% of managers compared with 21% of non-managers losing their jobs

  • furlough fraud came mostly from very small organisations — 76% of callers described the company size as between 1 and 49 employees.

Commenting on the report, Liz Gardiner, Chief Executive of Protect said, “There is no excuse for employers to ignore whistleblowers, but during a global pandemic, it is a danger for us all when concerns are not acted on and the consequences could be a matter of life and death.”