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Internal Disclosures

INTERNAL DISCLOSURES

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) makes it unlawful to subject a worker to negative treatment or to dismiss them because they have raised a whistleblowing concern. Raising a whistleblowing concern is also known as a making a ‘protected disclosure’ in law.

Whistleblowing rights under PIDA are day one rights. This means that a worker or employee can bring a legal claim under PIDA as a whistleblower from the first day of their employment. This differs from other employment rights which require the employee or worker to have two years of service.

Under PIDA you can make disclosures both internally, e.g. to your employer and externally, e.g. to a regulator, with corresponding legal tests depending on who you make your disclosure to. As a general rule, the further out of your employer that you go (in making a disclosure) the more stringent these legal tests become.

Disclosure to Employer or Other Responsible Person (section 43C PIDA)

S43C is at the heart of PIDA, as it emphasises the vital role of those who are legally accountable for the conduct or practice complained of in question. It does this by helping to ensure that they are made aware of concerns, so they can investigate and address them. S43C sets out the wide circumstances in which a worker is protected if he raises the concern with his employer or a responsible person.

S43B of PIDA establishes the types of disclosures qualifying for protection. Once the substance of your disclosure is established, the second step is to look at who the disclosure was made to, which will determine whether or not your disclosure is protected. Internal disclosures, i.e. a disclosure made to your employer is covered by S.43C of PIDA and is generally the easiest legal test to satisfy under PIDA.

Expand the sections below to find out more.

What does this mean?  

This means that you can make a disclosure to any person that is senior to you within the workplace; who has been expressly or implicitly authorised by your employer as having management responsibilities over you.

What does this mean?

If you reasonably believe that someone other than your employer bears sole or primary responsibility for the malpractice in question, then a disclosure to that other person may also qualify for protection. For example, if you are:

  • A nurse employed by an agency who, in the care home where you work, raise a concern about malpractice with the management of that care home.
  • A worker in an auditing firm who raises a concern with a client.
  • Someone who works for a highway contractor, who raises a concern with the local authority that the performance of the contract exposes the authority to negligence claims from injured pedestrians.

What does this mean?

A disclosure to a non-employer can include:

  • health and safety representative
  • a union official, its parent company
  • a retired non-executive director
  • its lawyers or external auditors
  • a commercial reporting hotline

These disclosures are deemed to be made to your employer in circumstances where you follow a procedure that has been authorised by your employer, e.g., the relevant contact is listed in the whistleblowing policy.

If you want advice on how or whether to raise your whistleblowing concerns internally, how to escalate your concerns internally or whether it is likely to be protected under UK whistleblowing law, please contact our Advice Line for help.