A Global Approach to Public Interest Disclosure
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A Global Approach to Public Interest Disclosure

What Can We Learn from Existing Whistleblowing Legislation and Research?

Edited by David B. Lewis

This timely and important book assesses the impact of legislation on public interest disclosures internationally, as well as setting an agenda for future research on whistleblowing.
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Chapter 3: European Whistleblower Protection: Tiers or Tears?

Wim Vandekerckhove


Dr Wim Vandekerckhove INTRODUCTION Perhaps the most obvious purpose of whistleblowing legislation is to protect the whistleblower from retaliation by the employer or others. However, such legislation might also have other purposes. For example, facilitating or encouraging the raising of concern about malpractices at work, making recipients of such concerns obliged to investigate suspected wrongdoing, or ensuring that the wrongdoing is dealt with. This chapter offers an assessment of whistleblower protection in Europe. All 27 countries of the European Union (EU) are included except for the UK, which is discussed in another chapter in this book. Switzerland, although not a member of the European Union, is also included, and the position of the whistleblower within the European institutions is also discussed. The assessment is made against a ‘three-tiered model’ derived from the UK Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA). Although the sole stated purpose of the UK PIDA is to protect the whistleblower, I argue that the successive recipient tiers make previous tiers accountable for investigating and dealing with suspected wrongdoing, thereby serving other purposes than mere protection. As protection often takes the form of creating a ground to claim compensation for the retaliation suffered – and not, for example, granting the right to reinstatement – these secondary purposes should not be underestimated. THE THREE-TIERED MODEL One of the reasons the UK PIDA is an important piece of legislation is that it consolidated an important consensus that had been growing since the early 1990s. What is that consensus? Whereas whistleblower activists argued...

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