Fraud whistleblowing cases relating to Furlough being investigated by HMRC

Legal experts are warning of the consequences of workers whistleblowing on their former and current employers for coronavirus job retention scheme fraud.


Whistleblowing cases relating to furlough fraud are increasing, and it has been reported that 13,775 furlough fraud whistleblowing reports have been made to HMRC.

The government department has simultaneously been stepping up enforcement activity on furlough fraud, adding resources to investigations teams and making available online information about whether an employer made a furlough claim.This comes after the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) revelation in February that an estimated £5.3bn was lost to fraud and error.


It has been recommended that employers who may be concerned should proactively review previous furlough claims and take pre-emptive steps to disclose concerns to HMRC along with evidence to show any potential mistakes were not deliberate.


HMRC has said that they will “take strong and public action” against those who took money they were not entitled to.


For those employers who discover that employees have told HMRC about their furlough claims, it is important to remember that the Public Interest Disclosure Act and the Employment Relations Act offers protection to workers from being victimised or dismissed.


Research from whistleblowing charity Protect found that almost six in 10 whistleblowers received no response from their employer when raising furlough leave concerns at the time of the scheme. At the start of the pandemic many employees knew furlough was being claimed for them, even if they were working, but they risked dismissal if they refused to work. The charity has reported that workers wanted to raise concerns but had no recourse to internal whistleblowing services to raise the issue with their employer.


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