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Whistleblowing – in the interest of the public‎

Whistleblowing is defined as “making a disclosure that is in the public interest”. It usually occurs when an employee discloses to a public body, such as the police or a regulatory organisation, that their employer is engaging in unlawful practices.

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The law regulating whistleblowing is wide and can be very complex depending on the circumstances of each case. However, under the Public interest Disclosures Act 1998 (PIDA), a worker is provided with a framework in which a worker can make a disclosure that is in the public interest. At the same time, protects them from victimisation at the hands of their employer.

A worker will have to show three things to claim PIDA protection:

  • That they made a disclosure
  • That they followed the correct disclosure procedure
  • That they were dismissed or suffered a detriment as a result of making the disclosure.

Whistleblowing Law

PIDA states that it is unlawful for an employee to be dismissed or be subject to any detriment because they have made a protected disclosure. For example, an employee has passed on information that they reasonably believe is malpractice in the workplace or wrongdoing may occur. However, it is not necessary for the wrongdoing to occur so long as there is a reasonable belief that the information shows there is.

The disclosure must be information which is;

  • A criminal offence
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • A Failure to comply with a legal obligation

or where there is;

  • Damage to the environment
  • Endangerment to the health and safety of an individual
  • Deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above.

As of 25 June 2013, the disclosure must be made with a reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so, therefore limiting the circumstances where breaches of the complainant’s contract will amount to protected disclosures.

There are other conditions that must be satisfied for the disclosure to be protected. The general presumption is that the employee must raise the complaint with the employer or any relevant agencies prescribed in the act. For example, an employee could consult the health and safety officer on a health and safety matter.

 If any other person is approached, the law states that it must be reasonable, along with other certain conditions that must also be satisfied. 

One condition which does not necessarily need to be made is for the disclosure to be made in good faith for it to be protected. However, if the disclosure was not in good faith, the tribunal may reduce the compensation by up to 25%.

Whistleblowing in Healthcare

Notifying the authority of an organisation’s wrongdoings is defined as whistleblowing. In the medical field, whistleblowing may result in reporting a colleague for unprofessional conduct. When deciding whether or not to blow the whistle, medical professionals must weigh the potential risks and benefits of doing so. Some risks associated with whistleblowing include workplace retaliation, damage to one’s reputation, and job loss.

Solicitors for Whistleblowers

Although many employers have whistleblowing policies that employees should follow, we recommend contacting us to obtain the best legal advice before doing so, as a wrong move may hamper your chances of a successful claim.

If you have been dismissed or suffered a detriment from whistleblowing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert employment advisors, who will be on hand to provide you with the best possible advice and guidance.

Lexadeen Solicitors - Manchester - Cheshire- Staffordshire

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