Changes are being made to whistleblowing cases from June 2013.
The main legislative change is the introduction of a new test in whistleblowing cases and from the 25th June anyone blowing the whistle must do so in the reasonable belief that their disclosure is made in the “public interest”.
This public interest requirement is designed to prevent disclosures involving purely private matters relating to the breach of an individual’s own employment contract. For example, City bankers have used the whistleblowing rules to raise issues such as the size of their bonuses.
Many fear that the public interest test may introduce uncertainty in the minds of potential whistleblowers and this may discourage them from coming forward. Indeed, while the Government has confirmed that employees will still be able to rely on breaches of their own contract where wider public interest issues are engaged, many will be unsure of whether this applies in their case. We would therefore encourage employees who are concerned to seek legal advice rather than avoid raising making disclosures for fear that they will not be protected.
A second change relates to the removal of the requirement that disclosures are made in “good faith.” However, Tribunals will have the power to reduce compensation by up to 25% if the disclosure was not made in good faith.
Finally, from the summer of 2013, employers will be potentially liable if an employee who has blown the whistle suffers detriment from another employee while at work. The employer will have a defence to this claim if it can show it took all reasonable steps to prevent the detrimental conduct.
For advice about whistleblowing or any of your employment matters contact us at any of our offices or request a call back for expert legal advice. We have a team of specialist employment lawyers ready to assist you.