Vol. 1, Issue 13 (Sep 01) Public Disclosure

The “Public Interest Disclosure Act” (PIDA), since 1999 workers have had the right to bring to the public attention, safety failures. Knowing that they have legal protection under the PIDA.

A qualifying disclosure is found under Section 43 of the Act. This means the information reveals genuine concerns about crimes, civil offences that includes negligence, breach of contract, breach of administrative law, miscarriage of justice, dangers to health and safety or the environment and the cover up of these.

The PIDA sets out what a worker must demonstrate in order to be protected. The most readily available protection is where the worker who is concerned, raises the matter with the organisation or with the person responsible. This section emphasises the vital role of those, in law are accountable for the conduct. It does this by helping to ensure that they are made aware of the concerns, so it can be investigated.

A disclosure to the employer – whether it director or manager – will be protected if the whistleblower has an honest and reasonable suspicion that the occurrence has taken place, is occurring or is likely to occur.

Where a third party is involved or responsible the same test will apply, this same test applies to disclosure made to them.

A worker can seek legal advice and be protected for doing so. This is the only disclosure under PIDA that does not require the employee to have made the disclosure in good faith.

PIDA applies across the public, private and voluntary sectors and protects workers who raise genuine concerns about malpractices from being victims or dismissed by their employer, in accordance with the Act’s provisions. In addition to employees, PIDA can apply to workers, contractors, trainees, agency staff, home workers. It does not presently cover the genuinely self-employed, volunteers, the intelligence services, armed forces or police officers.

If a worker has a genuine suspicion of malpractice, including a risk to any person, they can raise it with their employer and be protected, It can also be raised direct with the HSE who are one of 35 regulators prescribed under PIDA. These regulators occupy a special position under PIDA as workers are not required to have raised their concerns internally first.

We can supply help and guidelines if required.

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 news