The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) provides protection for workers who report malpractices (known as whistleblowing) of their employers or third parties from suffering a detriment or from being dismissed.
If you believe you have made a qualifying disclosure (see below) and have suffered a detriment or have been dismissed as a result, you may have a whistleblowing claim.
Have you made a qualifying disclosure?
You need to ascertain you have made a “qualifying disclosure” in order to establish protection under PIDA. This is based on the following:
- Disclosure of information: there must be a disclosure of information. You must disclose facts, either verbally or in writing. Gathering of information or evidence or threatening to make a disclosure will not be sufficient.
- Subject matter of disclosure: The information you disclose must relate to one or more of the following malpractices:
- Criminal offences;
- Breach of any legal obligation;
- Miscarriages of justice;
- Danger to the health and safety of any individual;
- Deliberate damage to the environment; or
- The deliberate concealing of information about any of the above.
- Reasonable belief: You must have a reasonable belief that the information you disclose tends to show one or more of the malpractices listed above.
- Public interest: The disclosure must, in your reasonable belief, be in the public interest.
Is it also a protected disclosure?
Your qualifying disclosure must also amount to a protected disclosure to be covered by PIDA but this will usually depend on to whom the disclosure is made. As a general rule, disclosure should be made to the employer to amount to a protected disclosure. Disclosures to third parties may be protected disclosures but only if more stringent conditions are met.
There is no qualifying service requirement for an employee or worker to bring a claim for suffering a detriment or dismissal as a result of whistleblowing.
The time limit for bringing a whistleblowing claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET) will depend on whether the claim is one of detriment or dismissal. For a detriment claim, the time limit is three months less one day from the date of the act or omission which gives rise to the detriment. For an automatic dismissal claim, the time limit is three months less one day from the date of dismissal. Extensions of this time limit are only available in exceptional circumstances.
If an employee or worker successfully brings a whistleblowing claim, the ET has the power to order the payment of compensation. The compensation differs depending on whether the claim is one of detriment or dismissal. In detriment cases, an award similar to an injury to feelings award in discrimination can be awarded. In dismissal cases, compensation for loss of earnings is awarded. There is no financial cap on the compensation that can be awarded in either type of claim.
If you feel you have suffered a detriment or have been dismissed as a result of whistleblowing, please contact us on 0113 350 4030 or complete the enquiry form for a free telephone consultation.
We will explore all avenues of funding.