UK whistleblowers will be ‘Brexit casualties’ as the EU gets set to shake up whistleblowing bringing in ground-breaking legal measures protecting both public and private sectors.
The EU move on introducing a whistleblowing Directive – set to be made into whistleblowing legislation and policy – follows years of campaigning by NGOs, trade unions and journalists and will see an end to fragmented gaps in whistleblowing protection across EU countries.
Whilst good news for Europe, Protect (formerly known as Public Concern at Work) believes UK whistleblowers are being left behind its European neighbours.
New EU rules, announced today, (Monday 23) will require all organisations to have reporting channels for whistleblowers and to respond to whistleblowing issues raised in a timely manner. This is missing from the current UK whistleblowing legislation, PIDA (the Public Interest Disclosure Act) introduced 20 years ago.
Workers, the self-employed, shareholders, volunteers, unpaid trainees and contractors, subcontractors and suppliers will also be protected by new EU rules. It even stretches far enough to cover those going for a job interview. PIDA has too many holes with UK whistleblowers falling through the gaps.
PCaW Chief Executive, Francesca West said, “We are calling on the UK government to urgently review and amend our PIDA legislation so that the public interest is protected and workers feel safe to raise concerns about wrongdoing risk or malpractice and harm is prevented. We have intervened in many cases helping whistleblowers such as junior doctor, Chris Day, and District Judge Claire Gilham who found they were not covered by PIDA.
She added, “UK whistleblowers will be facing reduced rights compared to other EU citizens when the UK leaves the EU.”
An EU stakeholder survey noted the top four areas where whistleblower protection is needed according to respondents are:
(i) the fight against fraud and corruption (95% of respondents);
(ii) the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance (93% of respondents);
(iii) the protection of the environment (93% of respondents); and
(iv) the protection of public health and safety (92 % of respondents)**
Protect, which this year marks its 25th anniversary helping whistleblowers and organisations, will continue to lobby government for an overhaul of the whistleblowing legislation PIDA.