Employees who make disclosures under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, are protected from being subjected to detrimental treatment or from being dismissed for doing so.
In order to qualify for this protection, employees must disclose information (usually to their employer or to another prescribed person) that tends to show that wrongdoing has taken place, is taking place or will take place such as a criminal offence, a failure to comply with a legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice, a danger to health and safety, damage to the environment or an attempt to conceal any of these matters.
The making of such disclosures is often referred to as “whistleblowing.”
A good example of this would be a worker in a hospital who discloses that sharp medical instruments are being left around in corridors. This would qualify as a disclosure and as a result, the worker making the disclosure would be protected from dismissal or detrimental treatment related to the making of that disclosure.
There are two important points to bear in mind regarding whistleblowing law. Firstly, unlike with most unfair dismissal cases, there is no requirement for employees to have been continuously employed for 2 years before they acquire the right not to be unfairly dismissed – the right not to be unfairly dismissed because an employee has blown the whistle exists from day 1 of employment. Secondly, there is no cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded in whistleblowing cases and as such, whistleblowing cases can often be of very high value.
The team members at SDM Legal have extensive experience of whistleblowing litigation and have been involved in a number of high profile cases including one which was reported in the national press as being the largest such case ever brought in an Employment Tribunal and one case which fundamentally changed the law regarding public interest disclosures in the UK.
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