The Employment Rights Act 1996, amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, already gives legal protection to those who speak up in the public interest. The legislation is intended to build openness and trust in workplaces by ensuring that workers who hold their employers to account are treated fairly, and to provide means of redress for a worker who suffers detriment at the hands of their employer after ‘blowing the whistle’. In many cases, employers respond appropriately when concerns are raised by their employees. Where they do not, employees can take their case to an Employment Tribunal, who can award compensation.
In order to qualify for the protections, a worker must make their disclosure either to their employer or other responsible person or a ‘prescribed person’ as set out in the Prescribed Persons Order. Prescribed persons are most often organisations with a regulatory responsibility for the sector in which the worker works, or for the type of wrongdoing that is being disclosed. Disclosures can also be made to a legal advisor or an MP.