New changes to whistleblowing laws

This legislation protects workers from dismissal or detriment for raising certain kinds of unlawful activity to their employer or other defined bodies. In June 2013, there were various amendments to the existing whistleblowing legislation.

Despite the rules having originally been introduced in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, it is perhaps surprising that before June there was no requirement for a disclosure to have actually been in the public interest for a worker to claim protection for making it. For example, an employee who made allegations about breaches of their own employment contract could claim that they were a whistleblower.

The new rules do introduce a "public interest" test for qualifying disclosures (although it is yet to be seen how widely that will be interpreted). They have also removed the "good faith" requirement for protected disclosures - in other words, if an employee acts without honest motives in making a disclosure which is in the public interest, then the worker is still protected.

The other change is to make employers legally responsible where whistleblowers are subjected to a detriment by their colleagues (as is the case with discrimination legislation).

The changes apply to disclosures made on or after 25th June 2013.

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