Guidance on Public Interest Disclosure Act: Whistleblowing

SYSC 4.1

Application and purpose

SYSC 4.1.1

See Notes


This chapter is relevant to every firm to the extent that the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 ("PIDA") applies to it.


SYSC 4.1.2

See Notes

  1. (1) The purposes of this chapter are:
    1. (a) to remind firms of the provisions of PIDA; and
    2. (b) to encourage firms to consider adopting and communicating to workers appropriate internal procedures for handling workers' concerns as part of an effective risk management system.
  2. (2) In this chapter "worker" includes, but is not limited to, an individual who has entered into a contract of employment.

SYSC 4.1.3

See Notes


The guidance in this chapter concerns the effect of PIDA in the context of the relationship between firms and the FSA. It is not comprehensive guidance on PIDA itself.

SYSC 4.1.8A

See Notes


An operator of an electronic system in relation to lending must take reasonable steps to ensure that arrangements are in place to ensure that P2P agreements facilitated by it will continue to be managed and administered, in accordance with the contract terms, if at any time it ceases to carry on the activity of operating an electronic system in relation to lending

SYSC 4.2

Practical measures

Effect of PIDA

SYSC 4.2.1

See Notes

  1. (1) Under PIDA, any clause or term in an agreement between a worker and his employer is void in so far as it purports to preclude the worker from making a protected disclosure (that is, "blow the whistle").
  2. (2) In accordance with section 1 of PIDA:
    1. (a) a protected disclosure is a qualifying disclosure which meets the relevant requirements set out in that section;
    2. (b) a qualifying disclosure is a disclosure, made in good faith, of information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker making the disclosure, tends to show that one or more of the following (a "failure") has been, is being, or is likely to be, committed:
      1. (i) a criminal offence; or
      2. (ii) a failure to comply with any legal obligation; or
      3. (iii) a miscarriage of justice; or
      4. (iv) the putting of the health and safety of any individual in danger; or
      5. (v) damage to the environment; or
      6. (vi) deliberate concealment relating to any of (i) to (v);
it is immaterial whether the relevant failure occurred, occurs or would occur in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, and whether the law applying to it is that of the United Kingdom or of any other country or territory.

Internal procedures

SYSC 4.2.2

See Notes

  1. (1) Firms are encouraged to consider adopting (and encouraged to invite their appointed representatives to consider adopting) appropriate internal procedures which will encourage workers with concerns to blow the whistle internally about matters which are relevant to the functions of the FSA.
  2. (2) Smaller firms may choose not to have as extensive procedures in place as larger firms. For example, smaller firms may not need written procedures. The following is a list of things that larger and smaller firms may want to do.
    1. (a) For larger firms, appropriate internal procedures may include:
      1. (i) a clear statement that the firm takes failures seriously (see SYSC 4.2.1 G (2)(b));
      2. (ii) an indication of what is regarded as a failure;
      3. (iii) respect for the confidentiality of workers who raise concerns, if they wish this;
      4. (iv) an assurance that, where a protected disclosure has been made, the firm will take all reasonable steps to ensure that no person under its control engages in victimisation;
      5. (v) the opportunity to raise concerns outside the line management structure, such as with the Compliance Director, Internal Auditor or Company Secretary;
      6. (vi) penalties for making false and malicious allegations;
      7. (vii) an indication of the proper way in which concerns may be raised outside the firm if necessary (see (3);
      8. (viii) providing access to an external body such as an independent charity for advice;
      9. (ix) making whistleblowing procedures accessible to staff of key contractors; and
      10. (x) written procedures.
    2. (b) For smaller firms, appropriate internal procedures may include:
      1. (i) telling workers that the firm takes failures seriously (see SYSC 4.2.1 G (2)(b)) and explaining how wrongdoing affects the organisation;
      2. (ii) telling workers what conduct is regarded as failure;
      3. (iii) telling workers who raise concerns that their confidentiality will be respected, if they wish this;
      4. (iv) making it clear that concerned workers will be supported and protected from reprisals;
      5. (v) nominating a senior officer as an alternative route to line management and telling workers how they can contact that individual in confidence;
      6. (vi) making it clear that false and malicious allegations will be penalised by the firm;
      7. (vii) telling workers how they can properly blow the whistle outside the firm if necessary (see (3);
      8. (viii) providing access to an external body for advice such as an independent charity for advice; and
      9. (ix) encouraging managers to be open to concerns.
  3. (3)
    1. (a) Firms should also consider telling workers (through the firm's internal procedures, or by means of an information sheet available from the FSA's website, or by some other means) that they can blow the whistle to the FSA, as the regulator prescribed in respect of financial services and markets matters under PIDA.
    2. (b) The FSA will give priority to live concerns or matters of recent history, and will emphasise that the worker's first port of call should ordinarily be the firm (see Frequently Asked Questions on
    3. (c) For the FSA's treatment of confidential information, see SUP 2.2.4 G.

Links to fitness and propriety

SYSC 4.2.3

See Notes


The FSA would regard as a serious matter any evidence that a firm had acted to the detriment of a worker because he had made a protected disclosure (see SYSC 4.2.1 G (2) about matters which are relevant to the functions of the FSA. Such evidence could call into question the fitness and propriety of the firm or relevant members of its staff, and could therefore, if relevant, affect the firm's continuing satisfaction of threshold condition 5 (Suitability) or, for an approved person, his status as such.