Guidance

The Certification Officer’s Role as a Prescribed Person

Making a disclosure protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA), also known as whistleblowing'.

Documents

The Certification Officer’s Role as a Prescribed Person for the Purposes of Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

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Details

What is the effect of the Act?

The protection given to whistleblowers and whistleblowing is found in Part IVA of the Employment Rights Act 1996, by way of amendments introduced by PIDA 1998. The Employment Rights Act makes it unlawful for employers to subject their employees/workers to detrimental treatment or victimisation if they report certain types of wrongdoing (‘qualifying disclosures’) to designated persons. It protects most workers in the public, private and voluntary sectors including those who work for trade unions or employers’ associations.

Certification Officer’s functions

The Certification Officer has responsibility for ensuring that trade unions and employers associations comply with certain statutory requirements relating to their financial affairs of trade unions and employers’ associations to certain specified circumstances

Protected Disclosures and the Certification Officer

The Certification Officer is a ‘prescribed person’ under the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Regulations 2014 (“the 2014 Regulations”) in relation to qualifying disclosures by employees/workers of trade unions and employers associations.

Under Part IVA of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the 2014 Regulations, employees/workers of a trade union or employers’ association may be protected from detrimental treatment by their employer if they “blow the whistle” on the union or Employers Associations’ i.e. by making a qualifying disclosure to the Certification Officer. Employees/workers can tell the Certification Officer about suspected wrongdoing they believe may have occurred. Passing information like this is known as making a ‘disclosure’.

What is a qualifying or protected disclosure?

A qualifying or protected disclosure to the Certification Officer is defined in the 2014 Regulations as being one related to “fraud, and other irregularities relating to the financial affairs of trade unions and employers’ associations.”

For a disclosure to the Certification Officer to be protected it must also comply with the other requirements of Part IVA of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which include, at section 43F, that the employee/worker making it must:

  • make the disclosure in good faith
    • reasonably believe that the relevant failure falls within the above description (namely, that it concerns fraud or other irregularity relating to the financial affairs of trade unions and employers’ associations) and
    • reasonably believe that the information disclosed, and any allegation contained in it, are substantially true. ##How to make a disclosure to the Certification Officer Employees/workers of a trade union or employers’ association who wish to alert the Certification Officer to a qualifying concern can contact us

General enquiries

Certification Office
Lower Ground Floor
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square

London
EC4Y 8JX

Visitors to the Certification Office should be aware that currently in the event of an emergency evacuation of the building evacuation is via two flights of stairs. Anyone with mobility impairment wishing to visit the office should contact us before doing so in order to make any necessary arrangements

Alternatively you may wish to first call the Certification Office to discuss your concerns before making a written disclosure

Whichever way you contact us, please tell us if you consider your disclosure is one which is covered by Part IVA of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the 2014 Regulations. The Certification Officer will acknowledge any such contact and will conduct such enquiries as are appropriate.

You may wish to seek independent legal advice or seek further information from the other sources identified below before contacting the Certification Office.

What happens when a disclosure is made

Please provide as much information as possible with regards to your concerns. A member of Certification Office staff will be allocated to handle the matter. We will consider whether the information you have provided is within the relevant matters mentioned above. If necessary we may ask you for further information or clarification. If appropriate we will raise the concerns with the union or employers’ association directly.

If the disclosure is being made anonymously, we can still act on the information we have been provided with. If you wish to make your disclosure anonymously, please make this clear.

A guide to explaining the Certification Officer’s powers and practice

Once our enquiry has concluded we will inform you of the outcome of our enquiries and of any action taken by the Certification Officer.

Other sources of information about whistleblowing

Public Concern at Work provides free confidential advice to workers who have concerns about wrong-doing in the workplace. The charity can be contacted at:

7-14 Great Dover Street London
SE1 4YR

Or by telephone on 020 7404 6609 or at whistle@pcaw.org.uk

Further information can be found on the GOV.UK website

Employees/workers of a trade union or employers’ association who wish to alert the Certification Officer of a relevant concern can contact us at:

General enquiries

Certification Office
Lower Ground Floor
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square

London
EC4Y 8JX

Visitors to the Certification Office should be aware that currently in the event of an emergency evacuation of the building evacuation is via two flights of stairs. Anyone with mobility impairment wishing to visit the office should contact us before doing so in order to make any necessary arrangements

Whichever way you contact us, please tell us if you consider your disclosure is one which is covered by Part IVA of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the 2014 Regulations. The Certification Officer will acknowledge any such contact and will conduct such enquiries as are appropriate.

Protection for whistleblowers

The protection given to whistleblowers and whistleblowing is found in Part IVA of the Employment Rights Act 1996, by way of amendments introduced by Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. The Employment Rights Act makes it unlawful for employers to subject their employees/workers to detrimental treatment or victimisation if, they report certain types of wrongdoing (qualifying disclosures) to designated persons. It protects most workers in the public, private and voluntary sectors including those who work for trade unions or employers’ associations.

Published 20 June 2017