So, when is a whistleblowing act performed?
A commonly held understanding of the whistleblowing act is the
release of confidential information to an external third party,
often, but, not exclusively the media.
However, the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act,
the legislation introduced to protect certain types of
whistleblowing, is much more inclusive than this.
The act defines 'whistleblowing' as including a conversation or remark to
a work colleague or a family member in which
organizational information that is unknown to others is revealed.
If these concerns are relayed back to management before the employee's concern
has raised the issue through the company's formal procedures, assuming they exist,
then she is dismissed as a result of the revelation.
She'd likely to lose the protection of
the law that was introduced to protect whistleblowers.
The act was designed to provide protection to
those who raise awareness of an act or practice
that poses problems for public safety or
threatens other specific areas of public interest.
From the above, it is clear that while whistleblowing
is normally a purposeful and intentional act,
it might also be unintended and innocent.
The law makes little, if any, distinction between intended and unintended whistleblowing.
Reacting to a particular organizational activity or practice in a way that does not
comply with the requirements of the act does not
mean that legal recourse is denied to a whistleblower.
Should you wish to bring a case for wrongful dismissal,
a civil action is still possible.
The protection of
the Public Interest Disclosure Act will not be available.
So, why whistle blow?
The outcomes experienced by many whistleblowers have been personally damaging,
irrespective of whether the outcomes are considered psychological,
financial, or social.
Loss of employment is common to the whistleblower with
opportunities to gain alternative employment, which is often limited.
Some whistleblowers have become unemployable as their names have been
circulated amongst employing organizations as "troublemakers".