The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 1998
The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 1998 provides protection to "workers" making disclosures in the public interest and allows such individuals to claim compensation for victimisation following such disclosures. Further protection was afforded by The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA) which came into force in July 2013.
In order for a "worker" to be provided with protection under the legislation, a "worker" must make a "protected disclosure" to an employer, legal adviser, prescribed person or other appropriate person. The disclosure does not need to be made in "good faith" but under ERRA a whistleblower must demonstrate a reasonable belief that the disclosure is in the public interest. Any disclosures made in "bad faith" can be protected but the amount of any compensation received by the whistleblower (eg, for unfair dismissal etc) may be reduced accordingly.
Following a decision in the Supreme Court (May 2014) the definition of "worker" has been extended to Limited Liability Partners (LLPs).
While the legislation protects those making a disclosures either internally in the organisation or externally, the internal channels for whistleblowing should be exhausted before resorting to external whistleblowing.
Although the legislation overrides confidentiality clauses in employment contracts for "protected disclosures", it does not provide protection to chartered accountants from professional disciplinary proceedings.
Ethics Advisory Service
The Ethics Advisory Service can provide advice on the specific guidance that applies to members of ICAEW via its helpline +44 (0)1908 248 250 or via webchat.
Protect (formerly Public Concern at Work)
Protect is a charity concerned with whistleblowing issues. Their helpline +44 (0)20 3117 2520 and the Protect Advice Line offers free and confidential advice to anyone about misconduct at work who is not sure whether or how to raise their concerns. Protect aims to help enquirers to identify how to best raise the concern while minimising any risk to the whistleblower and maximising the chances for the misconduct to be properly addressed.