Construction contractor Balford Beatty has paid out a six-figure sum to a whistleblower who accused the firm of ripping off taxpayers.
Nigel McArthur was paid £137,000 by the English construction firm before the case was due to be heard at a tribunal. Mr. McArthur claims he was bullied by his bosses after he made a protected disclosure about an £18.5m office building project in Cardiff. The firm admitted to the unfair dismissal of McArthur.
The Welsh government awarded a contract to Balfour Beatty to construct a building in Callaghan Square as part of a regeneration on a vacant site. The project was later halted but the firm was paid about £600,000 for work carried out. The whistleblower said the firm’s true sub-contract costs had been hidden, and its profit margins increased from an agreed 3.3% to 7.34% because it submitted the lowest quotes from sub-contractors.
Pre-construction manager Mr McArthur said he reported his findings to his line manager but “was told that he should not have investigated the costs or alternatively that he should not be concerned about it”. Mr McArthur, who has not worked since he quit the firm in February 2015, said he was later bullied. His solicitor said the claim was brought in February 2015, and was met with denials until last November, just two weeks before a full five-day hearing was due.
Balfour Beatty admitted liability with the caveat that it had not carried out criminal activity or breached legal obligations. It said it regretted that it “failed to properly support [its] employee following concerns [he] raised”. It added that it also “provided full disclosure to the Welsh Assembly who were satisfied with [Balfour Beatty’s] approach”. The Welsh government did not comment.
Irish Whistleblower legislation offers a safety net to workers across all sectors of the Irish economy. The Protected Disclosures Act, 2014 can be found here: file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/Protected-Disclosures-Act-2014.pdf
Key provisions in the Act include:
- A prohibition on penalising workers who make protected disclosures and a wide definition of ‘worker’ to include employees, contractors, agency workers and work experience students.
- A broad range of ‘relevant wrongdoings’ which can be reported including criminal offences, breaches of legal obligations, threats to health and safety or the environment, miscarriages of justice, improper use of public funds or any attempt to conceal information in relation to such wrongdoings.
- A ‘stepped disclosure system’ which encourages workers to report to employers in the first instance.
Contact us on email@example.com or (01) 9020031 for advice on how this legislation impacts on your business’ HR policies, practices & procedures.