Whistleblowing and the impending law change
The final whistle may have gone on the football season but we are just about to kick off the changes to the current whistleblowing laws? which now sit in the Employment Rights Act 1996.
The 3 key changes will be:
Employers vicariously liable for other employees who victimise whistleblowers.
The removal of the need for good faith in employees making disclosures.
The specification that disclosures must be in the public interest.
The public interest addition can hardly come as a surprise as the original legislation was the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and was designed to protect employees from victimisation after spilling the beans on dubious, illegal activities of employers.
The removal of the good faith requirement may raise some eyebrows but might not be as radical as it may seem at first glance.
Workers will shall be encouraged to discuss concerns with their employers first which tends to show ?good faith?. Tribunals will still have the power to penalise disclosures that were not made in ?good faith? by reducing any compensation after a successful claim by 25%.
You might say that the damage is already done by that stage but if detrimental treatment is the finding after a whistleblowing then something’s wrong anyway.
So what does in the Public Interest means exactly?
Good question. It isn?t answered in the new reform bill though so judges will have to decide on what is and what isn’t.
That isn’t surprising as the aim of this legislation has always been to encourage the reporting of dodgy practices without the fear of worrying about the public interest definition too much and without the fear of repercussions from the employer.
Our view is that this in unlikely to have much effect on the numbers of employees ?blowing the whistle? or making subsequent claims to the Employment Tribunals and so effectively it?s business as usual.
If you need more advice or assistance on your rights under the Whistleblowing legislation then please contact us.