What is Whistle-blowing (Part 2)?

Paul Jackson

24 May 2017

The term whistleblowing can be defined as someone raising a concern about a wrong doing within their organisation. The concern must be a genuine concern about a crime, criminal offence, miscarriage of justice, dangers to health and safety and of the environment.


If workers bring information about a wrongdoing to the attention of their employers or a relevant organisation, they are protected in certain circumstances under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. This is commonly referred to as 'blowing the whistle'. The law that protects whistle-blowers is for the public interest - Blowing the whistle is more formally known as 'making a disclosure in the public interest'.

Whistle Blowing is:


  • Any disclosures should be made in the public interest.
  • If workers cannot go to their employer with the disclosure first they should contact a prescribed person or body
  • If workers are dismissed by their employer because of whistleblowing they may claim unfair dismissal.
  • A tribunal will have the power to reduce any compensation by up to 25% if they think the disclosure was made in "bad faith".


Qualifying disclosures are disclosures of information where the worker reasonably believes (and it is in the public interest) that one or more of the following matters is either happening, has taken place, or is likely to happen in the future.

  • A criminal offence
  • The breach of a legal obligation
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • A danger to the health and safety of any individual
  • Damage to the environment
  • Deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above.


Expert employment solicitor Paul Jackson answers some questions and explains the rules around whistle-blowing.

  • Who is protected by the law?
  • What is a protected disclosure?

Whistle-blowing -Who is protected by the law?

Workers generally is pretty wide it would include trainees apprentices it could even be self-employed people who are working to the NHS for example, but certainly all standard employees and more.

What is a protected disclosure?

A protected disclosure is a statement or a concern phrase that contains real information about what it is that the concern is, that falls into the categories we've discussed before health and safety, damaged to the environment, breach the legal obligation, criminal activity, miscarriage of justice or cover-up many of those things. That’s then disclosed to an appropriate person like someone more senior at work, for example your line manage or your new boss or possibly the person who is deals with whistleblowing or if you had a specified person at work, can even be other made a disclosure that kind made to an outsider, like the solicitor or an official in the Health and Safety Executive for example so it's pretty wide


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