• The Business Secretary is reported to have launched a review of employment tribunal fees in light of inaction from the Ministry of Justice (see here). The findings are to be published ‘in a few weeks’.
  • Section 56 of the Data Protection Act 1998 will come into force on 10 March 2015. It will be a criminal offence (punishable by an unlimited fine) for an employer to require job applicants or existing employees to obtain a copy of their criminal records by making a subject access request and supply it to the employer (known as enforced subject access).
  • The FCA and PRA are consulting on proposed new formal requirements in relation to whistleblowing for regulated firms. Views on the consultation paper are sought by 22 May 2015. Some of the key points to note are proposed requirements for firms to:
    • update their whistleblowing policies and arrangements, including to make clear that UK-based employees can blow the whistle to the FCA or PRA regardless of whether they have made an internal report;
    • ensure that staff handling whistleblowing disclosures are appropriate, eg allocate responsibility to an internal audit function rather than HR;
    • extend whistleblowing protection (further than the current legal protection) to all types of disclosure and a wide range of individuals including volunteers, interns, non-executive directors, agents and others;  any retaliatory action would be a matter of regulatory concern;
    • include an explicit clause in employment contracts and settlement agreements clarifying that nothing in the agreement prevents the employee from making a protected disclosure;
    • give a non-executive board member (preferably the Chairman) specific responsibility for the effective operation of the firm’s whistleblowing regime, for reporting to the board annually, and for reporting to the FCA where a tribunal upholds a whistleblowing complaint (to be known as a “whistleblowers’ champion”).