Published: 13 September 2023
5 minute read
Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, an employee can report to the FRC concerns in relation to matters which are within the scope of the FRC’s regulatory duties, and such disclosures will be protected if certain criteria are fulfilled.
The legislation is technical and specific, and you may wish to take independent advice.
If your employer has a whistle-blowing procedure, you should follow that first. Read more information about whistle-blowing to the FRC on this page.
If you wish to contact the FRC in relation to whistle-blowing, use these contact details:
By email: [email protected]
By post: PIDA Officer, Financial Reporting Council, 8th Floor, 125 London Wall, London EC2Y 5AS
By phone: 020 7492 2497
What is ‘Whistleblowing’?
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (the Act)  who are worried about wrongdoing in their workplace and want to speak out about it– i.e. 'blow the whistle'. Workers can take their employer to an employment tribunal if they believe they are suffering victimisation or discrimination for raising their concerns.
You can raise whistleblowing concerns with the FRC in certain circumstances (see below). However, it is only an employment tribunal that can decide whether or not a disclosure is protected under the Act. The FRC does not have the power to decide whether a disclosure is protected, or to intervene in employment relations, and we cannot provide legal advice.
Should you have concerns regarding breaches of the Modern Slavery Act, you should contact the Comptroller & Auditor General and more information on how to do that can be found in the NAO website.
What are the whistleblowing concerns I can raise with the FRC?
Under the Act, you can report to the FRC any concerns about your employer which you believe are substantially true, in relation to:
- the independent oversight of the regulation of the accountancy, auditing and actuarial professions;
- the independent supervision of Auditors General (as defined in section 1226 of the Companies Act 2006);
- the registration of third country auditors (as defined in section 1261 of that Act); and
- the monitoring of major and public interest audits;
- the monitoring and securing of compliance by companies with the requirements of legislation relating to accounts and directors’ reports;
- the monitoring of compliance by issuers of transferable securities with accounting requirements imposed by legislation in relation to periodic accounts and reports;
- the investigation of the conduct of auditors, accountants or actuaries and, where appropriate, the holding of disciplinary hearings in public interest cases (as defined in paragraph 24, Schedule 10 Companies Act 2006).
Under the Act, the FRC is not required to investigate every disclosure it receives: the FRC can only investigate disclosures on the basis of its legal powers.
How should I raise a whistleblowing concern?
Your employer may have their own internal whistleblowing procedures – if so, you should consider whether it is appropriate to raise your concern with your employer first. If your employer does not have any procedures, or you are uncomfortable about using the procedures, or you have raised your concern with your employer but are concerned by their response or lack of response, then it may be appropriate for you to raise your concerns with the FRC
If you raise your concerns with the FRC instead of your employer, your disclosure will be protected providing you:
- make the disclosure in the public interest (rather than for any ulterior motives);
- reasonably believe that the information, and any allegation it contains, is true as far as you know; and
- have reason to believe that the matter falls within the FRC's regulatory remit.
If you make a protected disclosure to the FRC, you will be protected from reprisal in the course of your employment in the same way as if you had made the disclosure to your employer.
Can I raise a whistleblowing concern anonymously?
Yes, you can. If you raise your whistleblowing concern anonymously, we will still take it seriously and investigate it as appropriate.
However, it may be more difficult for us to assess and investigate your concern effectively; and to communicate with you. You should also be aware that if you raise a concern anonymously it may be more difficult to qualify for protection under the Act, as it may not be possible to link you to the disclosure if and when an employment tribunal considers your case.
If you do decide to identify yourself, and ask for your concern to be treated in confidence, the FRC will seek to protect your identity from the organisation you are reporting and, where possible, only disclose your identity with your consent.
We cannot, however, guarantee anonymity in all cases. During the course of any enquiries made in relation to your disclosure, the organisation may be able to work out your identity or it may be necessary for the FRC to disclose your identity (for example, if we need to report the matter to the police). Should we need to disclose your identity, we will tell you before we do so.
How can I contact the FRC?
You can contact the FRC as follows:
When you first contact the FRC, we may only be able to give you limited feedback about the steps we take as a result of the disclosure. In many cases, there are restrictions on the disclosure of information which the FRC has obtained in the course of undertaking its work – those restrictions may prevent us from giving detailed feedback.
What will the FRC do?
There are a number of ways we may respond to a disclosure, depending on what you tell us, how serious the matter is, and the scope of our legal powers.
In the first place, we will consider whether the FRC is the appropriate organisation to receive the information, or whether there are other agencies or bodies which may be better placed to register your concern.
If other agencies or bodies are more appropriate we will either:
- encourage you to contact the agency(s) yourself; or
- consider passing on the information to the agency or body itself. We will usually seek to obtain your consent before disclosing either the information disclosed by you or your identity to another agency or body; there may, however, be circumstances where this is not possible (for example, where we need to disclose information to the police).
If the FRC is the appropriate organisation to receive the information then the matter will be referred to the relevant team within the FRC. That team will decide whether any further action should be taken and if so, what action. You will be informed of the referral by the receiving team and they will make clear to you what feedback they will be able to give to you depending on the applicable procedures and any statutory provisions.
What information and evidence do I need to provide the FRC?
You can make your disclosure over the telephone, or in writing. It is not FRC policy to hold interviews with whistleblowers.
The Act does not require you to have evidence before blowing the whistle. However you must reasonably believe that the disclosure you are making is in in the public interest and is substantially true.
Any evidence you do have is likely to be helpful in considering whether further steps should be taken. Such evidence might include:
- the names of any individuals involved in the wrongdoing;
- the nature of the misconduct – what has gone wrong?
- a chronology of the facts – what happened, where and when?
- who else knows about the wrongdoing?
- any other key dates you can recall;
- any supporting documents or evidence you may have.
We will not encourage you to proactively obtain any further information from any source, whatever the circumstances, but we may ask you to clarify the information you have already provided.
How will my personal data be treated?
The FRC will not keep your personal data for longer than is necessary to fulfil the purpose of this Policy. Your rights in relation to your personal data are set out in our Privacy Statement.
Who can I contact for advice if I’m thinking of raising a whistleblowing concern?
If you are thinking of raising a whistleblowing concern under this Policy but feel you need advice before speaking to anyone, you may wish to take independent legal advice from a lawyer.
You can also contact one of the following for advice and support:
- The Citizens Advice Bureau
- Protect, which is the independent whistleblowing charity and offers free, independent and confidential advice about whistleblowing. Protect's ebsite and they can be contacted for more information on their whistleblowing advice line number which is 020 3117 2520 or by using the contact form and can be found on YouTube and Twitter.
This is a broad definition under the Act and includes employees and those employed on a temporary basis or through an agency.