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Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (section 12 - 18 and footnotes)

An Act to protect individuals who make certain disclosures of information in the public interest; to allow such individuals to bring action in respect of victimisation; and for connected purposes.

[2nd July 1998]

Section 12
Work outside Great Britain

[Substantive provision repealed]


This section originally amended section 196 of the 1996 Act but is now of no effect as s.196 of the ERA was repealed by s.32(3) Employment Relations Act 1999. The issue of whether someone who ordinarily works outside Great Britain is protected under the Act is now to be determined under the rules of private international law. This was considered in the context of PIDA as a preliminary point in Bhatia v Sterlite Industries.

Section 13
Police officers

[This section is being repealed]


This section had the effect of excluding police officers (though not civilian staff in the police service) from the Public Interest Disclosure Act. It is being repealed by the Police Reform Act 2002 which, as explained in the notes on section 43KA supra, will extend PIDA protection to police officers from Spring 2004.

Section 14
Remedy for infringement of rights

14. - In section 205 of the 1996 Act (remedy for infringement of certain rights) aftersubsection (1) there is inserted-

"(1A) In relation to the right conferred by section 47B, the reference in subsection (1) to an employee has effect as a reference to a worker."


The effect of this is that complaints under this Act can only be brought to an employment tribunal. It also provides that those covered by the extended meaning of "worker" in s.43K(1) can bring claims to an employment tribunal (which they would do under s.2, supra).

Section 15
Interpretative provisions of 1996 Act

15 - (1) At the end of section 230 of the 1996 Act (employees, workers etc) there is inserted -

"(6) This section has effect subject to sections 43K and 47B(3); and for the purposes of Part XIII so far as relating to Part IVA or section 47B, "worker", "worker's contract" and, in relation to a worker, "employer", "employment" and "employed" have the extended meaning given by section 43K."

(2) In section 235 of the 1996 Act (other definitions) after the definition of "position" there is inserted-

"protected disclosure" has the meaning given by section 43A,"


This provision amends the interpretative provisions in the ERA to provide that the definition of "workers" in s.230 is given the extended meaning in s.43K (supra) for the purposes of this Act.

It also provides that the term "protected disclosure" which is inserted (by ss.2 and 5 supra) into other parts of the ERA has the meaning given by s.1 PIDA, s.43A ERA.

Section 16
Dismissal of those taking part in unofficial industrial action

16 - (1) In section 237 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (dismissal of those taking part in unofficial industrial action), in subsection (1A) (which provides that the exclusion of the right to complain of unfair dismissal does not apply in certain cases)-

(a) for "or 103" there is substituted ", 103 or 103A", and
(b) for "and employee representative cases)" there is substituted "employee representative and protected disclosure cases)".


While s.237(1A) TULRA 1992 provides that generally an employee who is taking part in unofficial industrial action at the time of his dismissal cannot bring a claim for unfair dismissal, this amending provision means that this bar will not apply where the employee was dismissed or made redundant because he had made a protected disclosure.

Section 17

Corresponding provision for Northern Ireland.

17. - An Order in Council under paragraph 1(1)(b) of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (legislation for Northern Ireland in the interim period) which states that it is made only for purposes corresponding to those of this Act-

(a) shall not be subject to paragraph 1(4) and (5) of that Schedule (affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament), but
(b) shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament


The Act applies only to England, Scotland and Wales. This section enabled its provisions to be extended to Northern Ireland by Order in Council, and this was done by statutory instrument 1998 No.1763 (NI. 17) which was brought into force on 31st October 1999 by SRNI 1999 No. 400.

Section 18
Short title, interpretation, commencement and extent.

18. - (1) This Act may be cited as the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

(2) In this Act "the 1996 Act" means the Employment Rights Act 1996.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), this Act shall come into force on such day or days as the Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument appoint, and different days may be appointed for different purposes.

(4) The following provisions shall come into force on the passing of this Act-

(a) section 1 so far as relating to the power to make an order under section 43F of the 1996 Act,
(b) section 8 so far as relating to the power to make regulations under section 127B of the 1996 Act,
(c) section 17, and
(d) this section.

(5) This Act, except section 17, does not extend to Northern Ireland.


The substantive provisions of the Act came into force on 2nd July 1999 in England, Wales and Scotland.

[1] Hansard HL 11 May 1998, Lord Borrie QC, col. 889

[2] Parliamentary consideration of the Act can be found at

Parliamentary Debates HC, Standing Committee D, 11 March 1998; Hansard HC, 24 April 1998, cols. 1124 -1144; Hansard HL, 11 May 1998, cols. 888 - 904; Hansard HL, 5 June 1998, cols. 611 - 639; and Hansard HL, 19 June 1998, cols. 1798 - 1804. While there was no debate at Second Reading in the Commons in 1997, the principles behind the legislation were debated the previous year – Hansard HC 1 March 1996 col 1108 et seq. It should be noted that where the construction of this Act may be open to more than one interpretation, these annotations draw on the statements in Parliament not only of the Minister but of the promoters of the Bill (Richard Shepherd MP and Lord Borrie QC). This is because along with Ministerial statements, those of the promoter are recognised as relevant authority for purposes of construction when permitted under the rule in Pepper v Hart (1993) 1 All ER 42.

[3] (Hansard HL, 5 June 1998, col. 614).