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STOP PRESS – changes to whistleblowing

BY Daniel Gorry
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

The Government has announced a number of changes to whistleblowing legislation commencing on 25th June 2013.  There are two major changes due to come into force on that date.   

Firstly, the employee will have to show that the employee has a reasonable belief that the disclosure is made in the public interest.  This might sound obvious, but, in the past, tribunals have found that the whistleblowing legislation could cover an employee’s disclosure that his or her own contract of employment has been breached e.g. by not paying holiday pay, failing to follow a contractual disciplinary procedure etc.   From 25th June, the employee will have to show some public interest in the disclosure being made, i.e. that it affects a group of people and not just one employee. 

Secondly, the whistleblowing provisions will be extended to include those who make disclosures in bad faith e.g. where they are motivated by money or spite.  However, in this case, the tribunal will be empowered to reduce any compensation by up to 25% to reflect the fact that the disclosure was not made in good faith. 

There is one further change due to be implemented, but where there is not yet a commencement date.  The legislation will be extended to make employers liable for employees who subject other workers to a detriment due to the latter raising an issue of whistleblowing e.g. by bullying or harassing them.  This will be similar to the vicarious liability that an employer has where one employee discriminates against another for unlawful discriminatory reasons.

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