The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 of the United Kingdom offers a framework of protection in legal terms to those who unveil information that is aimed at exposing malpractice and any other information of similar concern. In other words, the act aims at protecting the whistleblowers from dismissal or victimization once they raise a certain concern that touches on a particular individual or organization that has been involved in malpractices. (Henry, 2005),
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Malpractices range from crime to civil offenses such as breach of contract, negligence, and miscarriage of justice, breach of administrative law as well as danger to safety and health or the environment. The cover-up of any of these applies to all employees and all professions with the exclusion of the army. In the past employees would have contributed a lot in preventing the occurrence of malpractices that saw many institutions crumbling had they felt that they would have received support after raising the allegations.
This raised the need to have such an act that would shield the whistleblowers who witnessed something that was not in accordance with the law in their workplaces. However, the span of the Act extends only to raising concerns that are genuine and which involve issues to do with civil offenses and crime. Therefore, the procedures for raising such concerns to a prescribed regulator under the public interest disclosure act 1998 are time-consuming and they are unlikely to assist an employee who wishes to alert a regulator over malpractices within the workplace.
According to Study 2000, any significant revelation should initially be made to the people or persons chosen by various public institutions to receive such disclosures and in case the information to be disclosed touches on malpractices committed by such chosen persons then the procedure becomes longer than anticipated because the person disclosing the information should seek appointments with officers in higher ranks than those initially chosen to receive information on various malpractices.
After the designated person gets the relevant information he/she has to consider the matter disclosed closely and if he/she finds any ground that would prompt any further proceedings then the investigation has to be conducted in order to establish whether the allegations are true or false. The other procedure is to determine the form investigations should take and this is based on whether the malpractice is a crime or a civil offense.
The next procedure is the appointment of the relevant person who has to carry out the investigations. Getting a genuine and honest person to carry out the investigations is also an uphill task that is time-consuming because it involves going back into individual records in order to come up with an individual who has a clean record and has never been implicated with any offense. (Stady, 2000)
The designated person to handle information disclosed to him/her has to decide whether any ground for proceeding further exists and this involves another procedure of informing the person who disclosed the information on the same. Matters that relate to finances require investigations from internal auditors and this requires that the director of finance be informed.
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After investigations have been conducted the designated person to whom the disclosure was made based on the results of the investigations initiates formal procedures for reporting to the necessary authorities in the institutions so that further actions can be taken against those implicated with various malpractices. In essence, the procedures involved are enormous and this discourages many employees from taking considerable steps to report malpractices to the required authorities.
Henry, D. (2005), The implications of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, (Oxford, Oxford University Press).
Stady, V. (2000), Procedures and processes involved in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, (Oxford, Oxford University Press).