It is widely acknowledged that reform to the UK’s whistleblowing law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA 1998) is long overdue. PIDA has been the blueprint for much of the world’s whistleblowing legislation, but almost 25 years later, urgent reform is needed to reflect the modern workplace and keep pace with international best practice. Protect welcomes reform being put on the agenda, and the opportunity to hear Mary Robinson MP’s speech on this vital issue in the Commons today.
In Mary Robinson’s Ten-Minute Rule Bill announced today, it is proposed that PIDA is repealed and replaced with an Office for the Whistleblower: an independent body that will champion whistleblowing by providing support and advice services; setting standards; ensuring accountability for those who inflict detriment on whistleblowers; issuing fines, penalties and, in particularly egregious cases, prison sentences for non-compliance; and ensuring that concerns are investigated and acted upon.
Overall, we support the introduction of an independent body with the remit to set and enforce standards across all regulators and employers, ensuring that whistleblowers are better protected and their concerns addressed. However, we do not share the view that PIDA should be repealed – whistleblowers need effective remedies via the employment tribunal when they are treated badly or dismissed. Any new body must also be sufficiently resourced to be effective. With current resourcing issues across the legal and regulatory frameworks in the UK, it may be that resources are better spent improving our current whistleblowing framework to bring it in line with international best practice. See our campaign pages and our own Draft Whistleblowing Bill here.