In the majority of whistleblowing cases, it is the employer or someone within that organisation, to whom the employee will make a protected disclosure. However, if an employee decides to blow the whistle to a prescribed person rather than their employer, they must ensure that they have chosen the correct person or body for their complaint. A new list of 'prescribed persons' for whistleblowing purposes has been introduced by the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014 (the ‘Order’).
The new list is set out in the Schedule to the Order and includes MPs, specified Government ministers and public bodies, together with 60 regulators.
The general effect of the Order, combined with section 43F of the Employment Rights Act 1996, is that a worker will be protected from being dismissed or treated less favourably if he or she makes a qualifying disclosure to a person prescribed in the Order:
- while reasonably believing that the failure disclosed is in the public interest which;
- falls within the matters in respect of which that person is prescribed; and
- the information disclosed, and any allegation contained in it, are substantially true.
Whistleblowing claims are important for employers – particularly, given that if an employee is found to have been dismissed because they made a protected disclosure, normal compensation caps for unfair dismissal do not apply. Any employers who list ‘prescribed persons’ in their whistleblowing policies may therefore need to update the content of these policies in order to adhere to this new legislation.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.