Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 

This act is better known as the “Whistle-blowing Act”. It contains provisions designed to protect workers who “blow the whistle” on their employers’ fraudulent, criminal or dangerous activities. A worker is protected if s/he reasonably believes that information he/she is disclosing shows:

  • criminal activity
  • a failure to comply with the law
  • a miscarriage of justice
  • health & safety dangers
  • environmental damage

The Act sets out a procedure which a worker seeking to rely on its protection must follow. Disclosures must generally be made in good faith to the worker’s employer (or a person nominated by the employer). If the worker genuinely believes that his/her employer would do nothing about the employee’s concern, or may even destroy evidence if the disclosure was made to the employer, there are provisions allowing employees to make disclosures to external organisations.

Any worker who is dismissed as a result of having made a protected disclosure will be considered to be automatically unfairly dismissed. The usual rule about having to have 1 year’s service will not apply, nor does the usual limit on compensation. Compensation in whistle-blowing cases is uncapped.

In order to ensure that employers are aware of any protected disclosures made, it is recommended that they introduce “Whistle-blowing Policies” so that they have clear procedures which employees must follow.

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