The Public Interest Disclosure Act came into force during 1999. There is now protection for employees who disclose information to a third party about an alleged wrong doing by the employer – in certain defined circumstances. The first thing to note is that the Act does not introduce a general right for all “whistleblowing” to receive special protection. The aim of the Act is to channel disclosures through appropriate sources wherever possible. You are not protected if you report your employer to the media in return for payment, for example.
You are also protected against any harassment that may arise as a result of your actions – for example being subjected to abuse by colleagues. Your Employer owes you a duty of care to protect you after a whistleblowing disclosure has been made. If they do not you will be entitled to calim compensation from a Tribunal.
The Act protects workers from being dismissed or penalised by their employers for disclosing information relating to issues such as an illegal activity. You should raise the matter internally if at all possible, informing your manager or using the grievance procedure. Check to see if your Employer has a Whistleblowing policy.
Examples of a protected disclosure would be:
- Criminal activity by the employer.
- Breaches of legal obligations.
- Miscarriages of justice.
- Dangers to Health and Safety or the environment.
- Concealing of evidence relating to any of the above.
The definition of a worker would include home workers and Agency staff.
There is no qualifying service for you to be protected under this legislation.
The Government also decided to make the compensation unlimited if an employee is dismissed for raising a genuine issue in the correct manner.
Remember, you are not protected if you leak information to the press or an inappropriate body. You must go first to your union or the appropriate authority ( Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive or a legal advisor).