Today, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published its response to the consultation concerning annual reporting requirements on whistleblowing. In it, it states that it has begun drafting new regulations. These regulations will enable a power in the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014 to require persons prescribed under s.43F of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to report annually on whistleblowing issues.
Shane Gleghorn and Emma Allen comment on this development:
"Today, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills ("BIS") published the Government's response to the August 2014 consultation paper which sought views on the practical implications of a legal power contained in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. The Bill requires certain prescribed persons to report annually on whistleblowing activity. The consultation revealed that there was general support for the reporting mechanism as it is believed that it will increase transparency and consistency.
"Prescribed persons" are public bodies such as the Director of the SFO, the FCA, the Data Protection Registrar, the Commissioners of the Inland Revenue, the Securities and Futures Authority and the Treasury. The new legislation will not therefore directly impact commercial firms reporting obligations; however, it will have an indirect effect as there will be a need to ensure that neither the whistle-blower nor their employer can be identified from the reports made. Today's report highlights that this is a key concern and confirms that the new legislation will include a confidentiality provision to explicitly protect identities from being revealed.
The Government has recommended that prescribed persons clearly set out their policies and procedures for handling whistleblowing and make those policies readily available to the public. Given the continued attention this subject is receiving and the Government's indication in its response paper that it will be publishing further guidance later this month, commercial organisations would be well advised to revisit their internal whistleblowing guidelines to ensure that appropriate policies are in place."