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Cumulative effect of emails about dangerous driving conditions amounted to qualifying disclosure

With the recent bad weather in the UK, Norbrook Laboratories (GB) LTD v Shaw is a timely reminder of the type information which can amount to a qualifying disclosure protected by the whistleblowing provisions in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996) where health and safety is concerned. On the facts of this case the EAT agreed with an employment judge (EJ), as a preliminary point in an alleged whistleblowing dismissal claim, that three emails from Shaw to his employer, when taken together, could amount to a qualifying disclosure within the meaning of S.43B(1) ERA 1996, even though they were not sent to the same individual or department and taken separately each email was not such a disclosure. 

The emails contained information about the dangerous driving conditions for Shaw’s team during the severe winter of 2010, when large snowfalls meant the roads were covered with snow and the main motorways were closed.  Shaw was making the point that the conditions were so bad that his team’s safety was in danger as a result of driving in the snowy conditions and the EAT took the same view as the EJ that the general information Shaw provided, drawing this dangerous state of affairs to his employer’s attention, was enough to amount to a qualifying disclosure under S.43B (1)(e) ERA 1996, i.e. information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker, tends to show that the health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be, endangered.

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