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Whistleblowing and the law

All members of the CII are under an obligation to carry out their work in accordance with the CII’s Code of Ethics. In addition to this, you may be under further obligations to regulatory authorities depending on the type of firm you work for and your role within that firm.

Reportable concerns and protected disclosures

It is important for members thinking of blowing the whistle to understand the difference between ‘reportable concerns’ and ‘protected disclosures’. The FCA requires regulated firms to have procedures in place to receive and respond to ‘reportable concerns’ from any person in relation to the activities of that firm. A reportable concern includes:

  • Anything that would be the subject-matter of a ‘protected disclosure’, including breaches of rules
  • A breach of the firm’s policies and procedures
  • Behaviour that harms or is likely to harm the reputation or financial well-being of the firm

A ‘protected disclosure’ is one type of ‘reportable concern’, although it is important to note that not all ‘reportable concerns’ are ‘protected disclosures’. This is because ‘protected disclosure’ has a very distinct meaning under an important piece of legislation for whistleblowers: the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

The UK Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 makes it unlawful for an employer to dismiss or victimise a worker for having made a ‘protected disclosure’ of information. More detailed information about the Act can be obtained from the leading whistleblowing charity Protect .

European Whistleblowing Directive

On 16 April 2019, the EU Parliament passed a new EU Directive on Whistleblowing, which set minimum standards of protection that countries in the EU must provide for whistleblowers.

Whilst the UK is no longer part of the EU – meaning that UK organisations do not have to comply with the Directive - UK organisations are encouraged to ensure their whistleblowing arrangements are of an appropriate standard and therefore may wish to consider meeting the minimum standards set out by the Directive. Furthermore, CII members may work for EU-based organisations, and should therefore be aware of the Directive and any changes made by their country’s government and/or regulator as a result of the Directive coming into force.

Further information about the Directive can be obtained from Protect.