Whistleblowing

A whistleblower is someone who reports an incident of wrongdoing they see at work, and does so in the public interest.

As a whistleblower, you’re protected by the law – you shouldn’t be treated unfairly or lose your job. However, only complaints about certain types of wrongdoing are protected.

  • Criminal offences
  • Failure to comply with duties set out in law
  • Miscarriages of justice
  • Endangerment to someone’s health or safety
  • Damage to the environment
  • Covering up wrongdoing in any of the above

That means personal grievances aren’t normally protected.

When the complaint is about a local authority councillor or the board member of a public body, it can be considered by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.

However, all local authorities and public bodies have internal policies for raising concerns, and it’s usually better to follow them first. That said, if you’re worried about being victimised or think the incident will be covered up – or you believe your initial complaint wasn’t dealt with properly by your employer – you should contact the Commissioner.

The Commissioner and her team can’t give legal advice or say if you’ll be protected by the law. For that, you should seek independent advice, or contact Protect, the whistleblowing charity.

If you ask us for help, we will provide an initial response within 15 working days. The Commissioner will let you know if we can take action (and what that action might be) – if not, we’ll point you towards someone else who can help.

Remember, if the Commissioner decides to investigate your case, she must tell the person you’re complaining about. Your identity will never be disclosed, but there is always a risk that someone will be able to guess who you are.

We will only collect or share information about you if:

  • you have given us your permission, or
  • we are worried about your (or someone else's) safety.

If you want to make a complaint as a whistleblower please contact us.

Making a complaint

We investigate complaints about the behaviour of MSPs, local authority councillors, and board members of public bodies and about lobbyists.

Making a complaint

How we investigate

Are you considering making a complaint? Have you complained to us already? Would you like to know more about what happens next? Here’s how we’ll investigate your complaint.

How we investigate