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Legislation under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, was introduced to safeguard Individuals, where they disclose certain information with regard to an organisation, they believe that something is not right or illegal.  This is called ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’ and commonly referred to as whistleblowing.

Famous whistleblowing cases include the tragedy at Hillsborough, the Mid Staffordshire NHS inquiry and both the Ealing Hospital and CQC cases. There have also been various FSA and banking allegations which have led to investigations to the Deutsche Bank and gas prices following whistleblowing allegations made.

The aim of this legislation is to encourage people to speak out when they know of a wrongdoing and in doing so the worker is protected against repercussions from the organisation as long as the disclosure itself falls within the regulations.  The regulations state that a worker can make a disclosure where they believe that;-

A criminal offence has been or is about to be committed, where the organisation is not meeting or is likely to fail to meet its legal obligations. In situations where there is or there is about to be a miscarriage of justice.

Whistleblowing also happens where the health and safety of someone is in or is likely to be in danger, where there is the likelihood of damage to the environment and where there has been a cover-up of wrongdoing. Workers are also able to make a disclosure in accordance with the regulations on something that happened abroad, including if a different country’s law has been or will be broken.

The worker must make the disclosure in good faith, which means that they believe that what they are reporting is true and that they are telling the right person.  If the worker making the disclosure commits an offence in order to whistle blow, then this will not be covered under the regulations, and under certain circumstances, a disclosure containing professional privileged information will not be protected.

From 25th June 2013, the regulations will state that the worker will also have to believe that their disclosure is in the public interest for the disclosure to be made.  The regulations will also be extended to cover NHS workers and certain Doctors and Dentists.

An employer is not allowed to dismiss an employee on the grounds of making a disclosure as long as the disclosure falls within the regulations and the employee is not either breaking the law themselves in making the disclosure or they have not obtained the information through legal professional privilege. If an employee is dismissed due to a relevant disclosure they can make a claim for unfair dismissal. Workers who are not employees, but who are able to make a disclosure in accordance with regulations cannot claim unfair dismissal, however, they are also protected by the legislation and can claim detrimental treatment.