Tuesday, 04 June 2013 12:48

Whistleblowing Reforms

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 takes effect from 25 June.

In terms of whistleblowing/hotlines, this new piece of legislation aims to amend the protection offered to those persons who highlight their concerns and pass information. The changes involve -

Invoking a public interest test with regard to qualifying diclosures;

The removal of the 'good faith' requirement, from the definition of a protected disclosure;

Tribunals will be empowered to reduce the compensation awarded by 25%, if the protected disclosure was NOT in good faith; and

Employers may find themselves vicariously liable where a detriment has been caused to a whistle-blower by another worker.

In effect, the Government are hopeful that this legislation will finally close the loophole in whistleblowing/hotline protection, which will allow individuals to inform on matters of public interest. This legislation should prevent workers from making a whistleblowing/hotline claim at an employment tribunal for purely private matters, such as issues with their own contract, for example.

It also introduces greater protection for individuals from harassment, when they do highlight their concerns - which can only be a good thing.

Many organisations, who may well have had previous concerns with the implementation of the services of an external and independent whistleblowing/hotline service provider, perhaps leading to large numbers of spurious and irrelevant claims, can now, with the introduction of this Act, view such a service as an additional and worthwhile reporting mechanism, that not only benefits their employees, but their organisation as a whole.