The Government has confirmed that two key changes to whistleblowing detriment rules will now come into force, via the Enterprise Bill, in the Summer:
- claims must be brought in the public interest but do not have to be made in good faith
- employers can be vicariously liable for workers' actions.
A third possible change, raised in debates on the Bill by the Opposition before the Easter recess, was to give whistleblowers protection against discrimination when attempting to find a new job (at present, the complainant must be a "worker"). The Government declined to add this to the list of amendments to the whistleblowing legislation but promised to call for evidence to establish whether the legislation, including its scope, should be reviewed, once the Bill has completed its Parliamentary passage.
In the meantime, however, the "Whistleblowing Commission", set up earlier this year by the long-standing charity Public Concern at Work, has issued its own consultation document "Strengthening Law and Policy" which supports an extension of protection to a wider category of workers, as well as making suggestions on:
making whistleblowing policies mandatory (listed companies already have this obligation under the Corporate Governance Code)
introducing financial rewards for whistleblowers
extending protection to workers wrongly identified as whistleblowers
providing an exemption from tribunal fees for whistleblowing claims
rationalising the causation tests for claims, so that the same test applies to detriment and dismissal cases
giving tribunals the power to make recommendations and orders for employers to improve their procedures and to report disclosures to authorities.