Whistleblowing changes come into effect

26 June 2013 Changes to whistleblowing law enacted by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act have now come into effect.

26 Jun 2013| News

26 June 2013

Changes to whistleblowing law enacted by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act have now come into effect.

The new legislation became effective yesterday (Tuesday 25 June 2013) and make potential whistleblowers more vulnerable.

Three changes are now in effect, as detailed below:

Whistleblowers must prove their information is ‘in the public interest’

Whistleblowers will now need to prove that the disclosure they make is in the public interest, and that it 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.

Senior lecturer at the University of East London’s School of Law and Social Sciences Catherine Hobby warned in the Institute of Employment Rights’ free resource on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act that this change is likely to “generate considerable uncertainty, as the test further exposes a claimant to the dangers of restrictive judicial interpretation that often fails to act in accordance with the spirit of PIDA”.

Compensation reduced for disclosures not made ‘in good faith’

The ‘good faith’ test, which was previously a condition upon which public disclosure claims could be made, has been moved to the ‘remedies’ section of the law. This means that if a tribunal judges a claim not to have been in made purely in the public interest then compensation for victimisation or unfair dismissal can be reduced by up to 25%.

This is an improvement on the law, but the Institute of Employment Rights does not feel it has gone far enough. Catherine Hobby argues that “the focus should be on the value of the information disclosed and not the motive of the whistleblower … If a tribunal allows employers to challenge the motives of the messenger then important warnings of wrongdoing may be lost”.

Whistleblowers are now protected from harassment by co-workers

Employers are now vicariously liable for the harassment of whistleblowers by coworkers or any agents of the employer.

Click here to buy Catherine Hobby’s book on whistleblowing – now just £5!

Click here to read Catherine Hobby’s response to the latest public consultation on the effects of the new laws

Click here to read the IER’s ERRA resource