WHAT TYPE OF CONCERNS CAN I RAISE TO BE PROTECTED?
To qualify for protection under whistleblowing law (the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998) you must:
This is called making a “qualifying disclosure” and is set out in section 43B of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
To be protected under the law you also need to disclose to the right person in the right way. Find out more about How to Raise a Whistleblowing Concern in accordance with the law.
On this page, we are going to focus on points (2) and (4): what is a disclosure of information, and what are the categories of wrongdoing and what do they mean?
What is a "disclosure of information"?
Information vs Allegation
Disclosing “information” is where you communicate facts as opposed to simply voicing a concern or making an allegation. (Cavendish Munro Professional Risks Management Ltd v Geduld UKEAT/0195/09)
In Geduld, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) gave a helpful example to illustrate this. In the hypothetical example of a worker raising concerns about health and safety in a hospital, a disclosure of “information” would be “The wards have not been cleaned for the past two weeks. Yesterday, sharps were left lying around”. However, “you are not complying with Health and Safety requirements” would instead be an allegation and not information and therefore would not be a disclosure. (Paragraph 24)
This decision in Geduld was expanded upon and corrected in Kilraine v London Borough of Wandsworth  EWCA Civ 1436 where the Court of Appeal said there was not such a strict difference between “information” and “allegation”. For a statement to be a “disclosure of information”, it must have sufficient factual content and be sufficiently specific. This is also considered in light of the context or situation in which the disclosure was made. For example, using the above example, if the worker took their manager to the hospital ward, pointed to sharps lying around and said “you are not complying with Health and Safety requirements” this would likely be a disclosure of information as the allegation is backed up with specific information.
This was confirmed in Simpson v Cantor Fitzgerald Europe  EWCA Civ 1601. When you make a disclosure, you should make sure to give some specific information to back up your claims.
What types of wrongdoing can you raise?
For your disclosure to qualify for protection, the information that you provide must fall within one or more of the six categories of malpractice or failure that the law sets out. See the list below to find out more about what each category means.
A criminal offence is self-explanatory and includes any wrongdoing that you reasonably believe breaks the law.
The wrongdoing must be tied to a legal obligation. This means that wrongdoing that you think is morally wrong, professionally wrong or a breach of company policies may not be sufficient if it is not also a legal breach.
A breach of a legal obligations includes breaches of any statutory requirement; contractual obligations; common law obligations (e.g. negligence, nuisance, defamation); or an administrative law requirement.
Examples: “Breach of FCA Regulations: Finance worker speaks up over fake charges to clients“, “Social worker speaks up about inappropriate relationship” (as well as being a health and safety concern, this could be seen as breach of professional duty, breach of duty of care etc) and see Ibrahim v HCA International Ltd  in which a whistleblower raised concerns about a breach of confidentiality.
Miscarriage of justice includes matters likely to lead to a wrongful conviction, such as reliance on unsound forensic techniques, failure to disclose evidence to the defence, or perjury (though this would come both under this heading and that covering criminal offences).
Example: See Gilham v Ministry of Justice 
This encompasses risks to any individual – i.e. whether they are a worker of the employer or not. As such, this provision includes risks to patients in a hospital, passengers on a train, children in care, consumers of electrical products or customers in a restaurant. It should be noted that the pre-existing protections in the ERA (ss.44 and 100 ERA) against victimisation for raising health and safety concerns remain in force.
This includes any wrongdoing that endangers or damages the environment. For example, dumping toxic chemicals in the sea.
Example: Collins v The National Trust ET/2507255/05 where the whistleblower raised concerns about asbestos being dumped on a local beach.
Cover-ups include information that tends to show the deliberate concealment of information about any of the above wrongdoings.