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Whistleblowing and Protected Disclosures

Whistleblowing is the disclosure by a worker of wrongdoing within an organisation. Following a series of high profile corporate scandals, a new statute called the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (“PIDA”) was introduced to provide protection to workers who make disclosures in respect of certain types of wrongdoing as set out in PIDA. PIDA introduced changes to the Employment Rights Act 1996 which is where the law in this area is now found.

Workers who make disclosures about their employers (or third parties involved with their employers) which fall within the scope of whistleblowing law are protected from dismissal or victimisation as a result of their disclosure.  Organisations should ensure that adequate procedures are in place so that it is clear how workers should go about making a disclosure. The legislation protects not only employees, but also consultants, agency workers and contract workers, amongst others. Organisations should therefore provide all workers with a copy of their whistleblowing policy and provide training where required to ensure that staff understand their rights.

A whistleblowing policy should include the following information:

  • the types of disclosures that fall within the legislation;
  • the requirements under which a disclosure will be protected by the legislation;
  • how a worker should report any such disclosure and to whom; and
  • what will happen once a disclosure has been made.

Policies should also state clearly that workers have a right to make a disclosure without any recourse by the employer and without fear of being dismissed or victimised by the organisation as a result.

Key Risks

If an organisation does not have a clear policy for dealing with protected disclosures, there is a risk that workers will not deal with any disclosure appropriately and the worker may be treated differently as a result, giving rise to a potential claim by the worker against the organisation.  In such circumstances, successful unfair dismissal and/or victimisation claims in the Employment Tribunals can give rise to unlimited compensatory awards.

How we can help…

We regularly advise organisations of all sizes on their obligations under whistleblowing law.  Where a disclosure has been made, we advise on whether it is protected under law and the best way to handle it in accordance with the legislation or the company’s internal policies.

We have extensive experience in the drafting and implementation of whistleblowing policies for organisations of all sizes and in all commercial sectors. 

If a whistleblowing claim is brought against your organisation, we can advise you on how best to defend that claim and limit the potential damage done to your business.

If you are a whistleblower and you have been subjected to detriment as a consequence, we have years of experience of litigation in this complex area, so please call us to see how we can assist.

If you would like to get in touch with our employment team, please contact us on 020 7234 0200 or

Anthony Purvis

Partner, Employment Law

Anthony offers succinct and practical advice to both businesses and individuals on various issues including redundancies, unfair and wrongful dismissals claims, unlawful discrimination, grievance and disciplinary procedures, TUPE, staff handbooks, contracts of employment, restrictive covenants and their enforcement, settlement agreements and the employment aspects of corporate reorganisations or sales. Read more...

Matthew Hodson 

Associate, Employment Law

Matthew handles all types of employment matters. He represents and advises employees and employers on issues involving whistleblowing, discrimination, redundancies, unfair and wrongful dismissal, TUPE, Working Time Regulations, restrictive covenants and settlement agreements.  Read more...