It's snow joke ...

With the weather set to take a turn for the worse across the UK, employers need to be aware of all ‘frosty’ communication received from their employees.

In Norbrook Laboratories (UK) Ltd v Shaw, the EAT considered whether three emails sent to two different people could amount to a protected disclosure under whistleblowing legislation.
The Claimant, who managed a sales team, had sent three separate emails to two different managers about health and safety concerns over employees driving in snowy conditions. The Claimant was subsequently dismissed and then argued that his dismissal should be considered automatically unfair as a result of making a protected disclosure.

The EAT noted that the last email sent by the Claimant did not have the same recipient as the first two emails, but this did not matter as the earlier communications were ‘embedded’ in the later communication. The EAT also noted that the emails communicated information as opposed to merely making allegations or expressing an opinion.  
The EAT held that separate communications could still amount to a protected disclosure, even if they were sent to different people and they did not amount to protected disclosures on their own. The whole of the correspondence between an employee and employer will be considered when deciding whether there has been a protected disclosure. In addition, such correspondence need not be sent to the same recipient where earlier correspondence is clearly ‘embedded’ in it.

Chris Bains