Whistle blowing – what’s all the fuss about?

Whistle blowing is a term that we frequently hear in the news these days. The term generally comes from employees raising a concern about corporate malpractice. The term whistle blower comes from the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) which started life as a Private Member’s Bill following a series of disasters and financial scandals in the 1980s and early 1990s. You may hear the terms being referred to as protected disclosure which is the more formal term. Whistleblowers reveal information which would otherwise remain concealed. More recently, we have seen this in the news relating to Mid Staffordshire hospital.

The introduction of PIDA led to many employers introducing whistle-blowing policies to encourage internal disclosure and the resolution of malpractices to which PIDA applies. However, this year we will see a substantial change in the law relating to whistleblowers.

The first is the plugging of the gap in whistle blowing legislation where employees can raise a protected disclosure for a breach of their own contract of employment. Clearly, this is not what the legislation was designed to protect as there are other avenues available which are more appropriate and the change in the law this year will remedy this loop hole.

The second major change which is due to take place is that currently an employee needs to raise his concerns in good faith and this is being amended. The change in legislation is coming in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which is making its way through Parliament at present and is due to receive Royal Assent later this year. This presents a major change to the current legislation and is likely to encourage more whistleblowers to come forward. We are of the view that this change will encourage more whistleblowers to come forward and in particular whistleblowers in the care and health industry. It is therefore important to refresh your policies and ensure that they are up to date before that change takes place.

For tailored advice on the law surrounding whistle blowing or any other employment law matter, please contact us on 01268 240000