The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) is a key piece of legislation in the United Kingdom that protects workers who ‘blow the whistle’ on wrongdoing in the workplace. The Act aims to encourage transparency and accountability within organisations by ensuring that individuals who raise concerns about misconduct are safeguarded against retaliation.

What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing involves reporting certain types of wrongdoing, typically something witnessed at work, which is in the public interest. This could be related to illegal activities, health and safety risks, environmental harm, or financial malpractice, among others.

Key Features of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

  1. Protected Disclosures:
    • To be protected under PIDA, the disclosure must be made in good faith and concern one of the following:
      • A criminal offence.
      • A breach of a legal obligation.
      • A miscarriage of justice.
      • Danger to the health and safety of any individual.
      • Damage to the environment.
      • The deliberate concealment of information about any of the above.
  2. Who is Protected:
    • The Act covers a wide range of workers, including employees, agency workers, and those who are training with an employer.
  3. Making a Disclosure:
    • Disclosures can be made to the employer, prescribed persons (such as regulators), legal advisers, ministers of the Crown, or, in certain circumstances, more widely (e.g., the media).
    • There are specific conditions that apply when making a disclosure to each of these parties to ensure protection under PIDA.
  4. Protection Against Retaliation:
    • Workers who make a protected disclosure are legally protected against dismissal or detrimental treatment (such as bullying, demotion, or failure to promote).
    • If a worker is unfairly treated or dismissed because they have made a protected disclosure, they can bring a claim to an employment tribunal.

How to Make a Protected Disclosure

  1. Internal Disclosures:
    • Ideally, concerns should be raised internally with the employer. Many organisations have whistleblowing policies that outline the procedure for making a disclosure.
  2. External Disclosures:
    • If the worker feels unable to report internally, they can disclose to a prescribed person or body (e.g., a regulatory authority). The list of prescribed persons is detailed in the PIDA.
  3. Other External Disclosures:
    • In cases where the worker feels that internal or prescribed routes are inappropriate or ineffective, they may consider making a wider disclosure. However, this has stricter conditions and should be approached cautiously.

Whistleblower’s Rights

Case Studies

To understand the practical application of PIDA, it’s useful to look at some real-life cases where whistleblowers have been protected or faced challenges. These case studies can illustrate the importance of the Act and highlight areas where whistleblowers need to be particularly vigilant.


The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 is a vital tool in promoting integrity and accountability within organisations. By providing legal protection to whistleblowers, it encourages individuals to come forward with information about wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. Understanding the key features and processes of PIDA is essential for workers who might find themselves in a position to report misconduct.

Additional Resources