This factsheet was last updated in May 2015.
What is ‘whistleblowing’?
Most people will have heard of 'whistle blowing' from the high-profile cases reported in the media. Following the recent economic crisis there have been many examples of whistle blowing in the UK in the financial and banking sector and within the NHS and the area of social care. Put at its simplest, whistleblowing occurs when an employee or worker provides certain types of information, usually to the employer or a regulator, which has come to their attention through work. The disclosure may be about the alleged wrongful conduct of the employer, or about the conduct of a fellow employee, client, or any third party. The whistle blower is usually not directly, personally affected by the danger or illegality, although they may be. Whistleblowing is therefore ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’ and occurs when a worker raises a concern about danger or illegality that affects others, for example members of the public.
Employees and workers who make a ‘protected disclosure’ can make a claim to an employment tribunal if they’re treated badly or dismissed. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) is the key piece of whistleblowing legislation and applies to almost all workers and employees who ordinarily work in Great Britain. This has been amended by other legislation, for example the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The situations covered include criminal offences, risks to health and safety, failure to comply with a legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice and environmental damage.
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