Employment law 2013 review: whistleblowing

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Another area in which the legislative draftsmen have been busy is whistleblowing, a convenient if emotive description of a member of staff reporting serious malpractice in his or her organisation. Since the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) came into force, case law has identified issues that many commentators view as gaps in the legislation. On the one hand, there were concerns that there was insufficient emphasis on a ‘public interest’ element. PIDA has been broadly interpreted so as to include a breach of a worker’s own employment contract where there is no obvious ‘public interest’ element. On the other hand, the legislation did not impose vicarious liability on employers for acts of victimisation carried out by their employees or agents against a whistleblowing colleague.

In addition, the original provisions were aimed at encouraging whistleblowing that was made in good faith and to the right people and discouraging whistleblowing that was badly motivated or misdirected. However, following a number of high-profile cases, four amendments to the existing legislation came into force on 25 June designed to encourage whistleblowing that is in the ‘public interest’ with less emphasis on the whistleblower’s motivation…

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