24 April 2015
The first case applying the new legislation on whistleblowing contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 has been heard.
In 2013 whistleblowing legislation changed so that to be protected against discrimination or dismissal by the UK whistleblowing legislation, a worker must show that the disclosure is in the public interest.
Previously, the Public Disclosure Act 1998, as originally implemented, required disclosures to be made “in good faith”. The changes to the protected disclosure legislation were introduced in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
They must also show that their information falls into one of the six categories of public disclosure accepted by the law: information relating to a criminal offence, a breach of legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice, risk to the health and safety of an individual, damage to the environment, or the deliberate concealment of information.
In the case Chesterton Global v Nurmohamed, the Employment Appeal Tribunal had to consider the new legislation for the first time.
Nurmohamed, a director or the London Office of an international estate agent company, reported that he believed his employer was deliberately misstating £2-3m of costs and liabilities. He argued the consequence was that 100 senior managers receives lower bonuses that they would have had the figured been properly declared.
An employment tribunal found that Nurmohamed did believe that his disclosures of the firms senior managers, and that this was a sufficient group of people to satisfy the requirement of the claim being in the public interest, although he primarily had his own bonus in mind.
The employment appeal tribunal rejected the employer’s appeal, noting that “a relatively small group of individuals may be sufficient to satisfy the public interest test” and that “the test is whether the worker’s belief that the disclosure was made in the public interest was reasonable, even if that belief is incorrect”.
Read more about the changes to employment law over the coalition government, and how they have restricted access to justice here.
The IER is holding a conference in London on 10 June, Workplace issues; Taking up the issues with the new government in which Catherine Hobby will speak on Public Interest Whistleblowing. Find out more about the event, and book your place here.