Workplace Rights: Whistle-blowing

Got an informer in your midst? It helps to know where you stand...

by Michael Burd and James Davies
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

'Blowing the whistle' was a relatively unknown expression when the Public Interest Disclosure Act (Pida) became law in 1998, providing workers with overdue protection against dismissal or victimisation for raising concerns about illegal or unsafe practices. But since compensation is uncapped, employees are sometimes tempted to use the law tactically to get around the £70,000 to £80,000 limit on unfair dismissal compensation. One of the grounds for disclosure is that the employer is breaching a 'legal obligation', which the courts have interpreted to cover individuals complaining about breach of their own employment contract. Hardly the type of 'public interest' the legislation was ostensibly designed to protect. Yet in other ways, the law is problematic for claimants. For example, while a factual disclosure about alleged malpractice is protected, the expression of an 'opinion' or 'bare allegation' is not - a tough call for an employee to make without legal advice. We're not blowing the whistle on Pida as being unfit for purpose, but fine-tuning is needed so it properly protects deserving workers while excluding those dressing up private agendas.

- Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors, email:

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

A leadership thought: Treat your colleagues like customers

One minute briefing: Create a platform where others can see their success, says AVEVA CEO...

The ignominious death of Gordon Gekko

Profit at all costs is a defunct philosophy, and purpose a corporate superpower, argues this...

Gender bias is kept alive by those who think it is dead

Research: Greater representation of women does not automatically lead to equal treatment.

What I learned leading a Syrian bank through a civil war

Louai Al Roumani was CFO of Syria's largest private retail bank when the conflict broke...

Martin Sorrell: “There’s something about the unfairness of it that drives me”

EXCLUSIVE: The agency juggernaut on bouncing back, what he would do with WPP and why...

The 10 values that will matter most after COVID-19

According to a survey of Management Today readers.