Analyses of PIDA

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1.2.1. Analyses of PIDA

              The introduction of PIDA has facilitated opportunity for whistleblower to be protected when a disclosure is made to the employer. Also, the act provides alternative route for employees to make external disclosure if concerns are not thoroughly dealt with internally. PIDA protection extended to both public and private sector employees and not limited by type of wrongdoing. The protection is equally broadened to external disclosure to regulators.

               Section 43J Employment Rights Act 1996 prohibits any effort to gag whistleblowers from raising a genuine concern about misconduct in an employment contract or compromise agreement. Employee will be offer protection by PIDA if convicted of breaching the Official Secrets Act (with the only exception of those employed by the armed forces or intelligence services who are not protected by the Act) or an employment contented of criminal offence was committed.

              Public Interest Disclosure Act has failed in numerous ways irrespective of the good intension as it was hailed in giving individuals a robust legal safety net of protection when misconduct is reported. At present, whistleblowers are silenced in seeking justice with their efforts under the PIDA. Until hearing and full judgment at Employment Tribunal, there is no public information claim about PIDA. There was impression when PIDA was enacted, that matters brought before Employment Tribunal would be made available in the public record in correlation with open justice approach. In contrast, the Government in 2000 introduced regulation to close employment tribunal register which defeats the purpose of the legislation that is meant to protect the public interest

               The lack of readily available public information by PIDA directly or indirectly hinder the progress of whistleblowing. Since the promulgation of the legislation, the number of claimants has increased tremendously, on that basis it would be paramount to know the underpinning steep increase. It is also necessary to know the nature of claims, which misconducts are more prevalent than others, the legislation being adopted to settle the claims, if the claims are common in public or private sector and the extent of good faith issues in settling reported cases. This information is never available until the issues are brought to hearing in employment tribunal.

                   Perpetuating abuse of the Act with secrecy enveloping misconducts can allow employers to buy off a genuine whistleblower. Lesser option to deal with the underlying problem will permit private gain to supersede public interest. Apart from the respondent benefiting from the settlement, the claimant would want to capitalise on the information for enormous settlement, as a result, trading the public interest for private gain.

                 Claimant may be persuaded to discontinue in pursing matter to employment tribunal hearing and accept the incentive to settle out of court. In commending those with courage to raise public concern, one should not discount the overwhelming pressure and sacrifices encountered by those individuals. However, the opportunity to address public interest is always defeated no matter the motive of the parties to settle prior to employment tribunal.                   In spite of the statutory obligation of PIDA, majority of regulators in the UK has failed in their duty to vigorously monitor claims referral system prescribed by the government. Evident has shown lack of information availability through the regulators and PIDA about whistleblowing. Despite, continuous good practice by Financial Services Authority and Civil Aviation, much is still needed from other regulators in order to promote whistleblowing


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