Whistleblowing framework review
The Government has announced a review of the whistleblowing framework. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) provides protection for employees who report certain kinds of wrongdoing regarding their employer or third parties, often referred to as whistleblowing.
In order to be protected under PIDA, the employee must have made a qualifying disclosure. This is a disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of the employee tends to show one or more of the six specified types of wrongdoing has taken place, is taking place or is likely to take place. The specified types of wrongdoing are:
- Criminal offences
- Breach of any legal obligation
- Miscarriages of justice
- Danger to the health and safety of any individual
- Damage to the environment
- The deliberate concealing of information about any of the above
The employee must reasonably believe that their disclosure is in the public interest. The information must also be disclosed in a way that complies with PIDA in order to be protected. This includes disclosure of information by an employee to their employer.
Whistleblowing framework – the review
The purpose of the review is to examine the effectiveness of the whistleblowing framework in meeting its original objectives. These were to:
- provide a route for workers to make whistleblowing disclosures
- protect workers who have made disclosures from detriment and dismissal, and provide a route of redress where this happens
- support wider cultural change, in which the benefits of whistleblowing are recognised and lead to action among employers and others
The Core research questions are:
- how has the whistleblowing framework facilitated disclosures?
- how has the whistleblowing framework protected workers?
- is whistleblowing information available and accessible for workers, employers, prescribed persons and others?
- what have been the wider benefits and impacts of the whistleblowing framework, on employers, prescribed persons and others?
- what does best practice look like in responding to disclosures?
Employees or workers who have made a protected disclosure in accordance with PIDA are protected from dismissal or victimisation. The dismissal of an employee will be automatically unfair if the reason, or principal reason, for their dismissal is that they have made a ‘protected disclosure’. PIDA also protects workers from being subjected to any detriment on the ground that they have made a protected disclosure. There is no statutory definition of detriment, but this might include being disciplined or passed over for promotion.
It is important to remember that employees do not need two years’ service in order to pursue a whistleblowing claim. There is no cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded by an Employment Tribunal in the event of a successful claim where the reason for the dismissal is that the employee had made a protected disclosure.
The review will be led by the Department for Business and Trade and will be concluded by Autumn 2023.
25 May 2023
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