Public Interest Disclosure Act

What is the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998?

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 was created by parliament to protect whistleblowers from detrimental treatment or victimisation from their employers after they have made a qualifying disclosure.

Who is covered?

The Act covers all workers including temporary agency staff, persons on training courses and all persons working for the NHS but it does not cover volunteers.

What is a qualifying disclosure?

Qualifying disclosures are disclosures of information about malpractice. This will include: criminal offences, failure to comply with legal obligations, miscarriages of justice, threats to health and safety of an individual, damage to the environment and a deliberate attempt to cover up any of the above.

Will I be automatically protected if I make a disclosure?

To be protected, the disclosure must be in the public interest, the worker must have reasonable belief that the information shows that one of the categories of wrongdoing listed in the legislation has occurred or is likely to occur, and the concern must be raised in the correct way.

My organisation has not dealt with the issue I have raised, what should I do?

If the whistle blowing procedure has been followed and the organisation has done nothing, the issue can be raised with an external body.

Which external bodies can I use if my employer is not listening to me?

The details of these external bodies can be found in the Act and include regulatory bodies such as the Care Quality Commission. If a disclosure is made to an external body the whistle blower needs to genuinely believe that the information and any allegation is substantially true.

Can I take my complaint to the media?

External disclosures should only be made in exceptional circumstances. As well as making the disclosure in good faith and believing that the information is substantially true. Protection will be triggered if the whistle blower reasonably believes that they would be victimised if they disclosed, or they believe that evidence is likely to be concealed or destroyed and the concern is exceptionally serious enough.