Protection for whistleblowers strengthened

The government has strengthened the whistleblowing rules to protect workers who publicly disclose bad behaviour from harassment from bosses or co-workers.

The amendment to the current whistleblowing rules sees employers become responsible for “detrimental acts” of co-workers against colleagues who blow the whistle, by treating those actions as being done by the employer.

The change follows in line with similar provisions already under equality legislation, where employers can be found “vicariously liable” for the discriminatory acts of their employees.

According to the new rules, however, employers that can show they have taken “all reasonable steps” to prevent that behaviour will not be liable.

Employment minister Jo Swinson said the new protection will place whistleblowers in a better position, while having no impact on “good employers who see it as their responsibility to make sure their staff have a good working environment”.

The amendments were introduced in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which received Royal Assent on 25th April.

The Bill introduced several changes to whistleblowing rules, including replacing the requirement that a disclosure must be made in “good faith” in order to be able to benefit from legal protection. Instead tribunals will be given discretionary power to reduce compensation awards where a disclosure has not been made in good faith, while the Bill also strengthened public interest requirements.

With over 20 years’ experience in advising on all aspects of employment law, Palmers can provide expert guidance on making a disclosure and potential harassment claims.

Therefore, if you need any help or assistance with any employment matter, please visit our website or contact one of our fee earners.