The National Audit Office (NAO) has just published a report suggesting that “prescribed persons” could do more to explain their roles and responsibilities to potential whistle-blowers.
What are “prescribed persons”?
In the majority of whistle-blowing cases, it is the employer (or someone within the employer’s organisation) to whom the employee will make a protected disclosure. However if the employee decides to blow the whistle to someone other than his employer, the employee must ensure that he has chosen the correct person or body for this complaint. A list of prescribed persons exists for such purposes. This list contains various MPs, specified Government Ministers and public bodies together with approximately 60 regulators. If a whistle-blower were to raise a concern with the “wrong” (non-prescribed) person, the whistle-blower would potentially not have the protection intended by the existing legislation.
What does the report state?
The report suggests that “prescribed persons” frequently do not know what is expected of them. For example, prescribed persons are not required to investigate every concern or to give feedback to the potential whistle-blower. However perhaps more importantly the report finds that prescribed persons could do more to explain their roles and responsibilities to potential whistle-blowers. After an examination of various protected persons’ websites, the NAO believed that more information should be available to the potential whistle-blower so as to ensure adequate protection for that person.
Ultimately the law relating to whistle-blowers is extremely complicated both for employers and employees. If in doubt about how to deal with such disclosures, individuals should take legal advice, where appropriate.