Protect is not alone in its calls to update the UK’s whistleblowing law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
On May 20, Baroness Kramer introduced a bill to establish an Office of the Whistleblower. Baroness Kramer had introduced a similar bill in the previous parliamentary session but it did not pass through the various stages to become law.
Protect Parliamentary Officer, Kyran Kanda said, “UK whistleblowing law is now 23 years-old and is failing to keep pace with the modern workplace. That is why Protect is campaigning to reform the law in its campaign, Let’s Fix UK Whistleblowing Law. We welcome Baroness Kramer’s Office of the Whistleblower Bill and the new amendment to her bill that the Office of the Whistleblower should have powers to review PIDA.
“We look forward to working with her to push whistleblowing high up the political agenda, and other interested stakeholders, to achieve better protection for whistleblowers.”
The Office of the Whistleblower bill (which you can read here) will have duties to ‘facilitate whistleblowing’. It will have the power to monitor the activities of relevant bodies, act as a point of contact for individuals who wish to blow the whistle, and maintain a fund to support whistleblowers.
An amendment to the 2021 Office of the Whistleblower Bill includes a new provision giving the Office of the Whistleblower power to consult on amending or replacing the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 – the current law giving rights to whistleblowers – and to report on any consultation.
“The review of whistleblowing law should take place as soon as possible. It will take some years before any Office of the Whistleblower is created and operational, and longer still to conduct a review. It is also unclear how an Office of the Whistleblower would be funded and whether it would have sufficient resources to conduct an extensive review of a complex area of law” added Protect’s Parliamentary Officer, Kyran Kanda.
Protect urges the Government to make good on its stated intentions to review the whistleblowing framework (see here). It has so far failed to provide any detail as to when such a review will take place and whether there will be a public consultation. The Government has stated that the review will take place once sufficient time has passed since the most recent legislative changes – the prescribed person’s reporting duty – but that occurred in 2017. In Protect’s view, a wider review is long overdue.