public interest

Under a piece of UK legislation called the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA), Employees and Workers who ‘blow the whistle’ – i.e.make a ‘protected disclosure’ of any wrong-doing in the workplace by their Employer – can complain to an Employment Tribunal if they are:

  • dismissed (or selected for redundancy) or
  • victimised at work in any way

for making such a disclosure. All the details are explained in our article here.

Someone blows the whistle when they tell their Employer, a Regulator or Regulatory body, a customer, an MP, the Civil Aviation Authority, the police or the media about a dangerous or illegal activity that they’re aware of through their work, that they believe is in the public interest.

The Act is used to inform those who need to know (called ‘Prescribed Persons’), about a Health and Safety Risk, environmental problems, fraud, corruption, deficiencies in the care of vulnerable people, cover-ups and many more types of actions. The full list of Prescribed Persons is here.

PIDA has a wide definition of what is a ‘protected worker’ which includes most workers and employees plus contractors, homeworkers, trainees and agency workers (including those people who are introduced or supplied by 3rd parties to do work at the employers). In May 2014 the Supreme Court also decided that members of limited liability partnerships are workers and covered under this Act. In August 2016 the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that an agency worker could be a whistle-blower at the hirer’s (who she worked for) in McTigue v University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation. McTigue made a disclosure about malpractice to the Hospital and then it terminated her agency worker assignment. She claimed this was an unlawful detriment and that she qualified as a whistle-blower and the EAT agreed.

EU Law

The European Union adopted the new ‘Whistleblower Directive’ in October 2019. EU member states will have 2 years to implement the new Directive, and must implement it at the latest by 17th December 2021).  However, because of Brexit the UK does not need to implement the Directive. However, employers with operations in the EU will be affected by it. You can see more details here.

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