The BBC has reported that a survey carried out by the charity Public Concern at Work has found that 60% of whistle-blowers who voice fears about their workplace receive no response at all from their managers. The survey also found that of 1,000 whistle-blowers questioned, 19% were disciplined or demoted after voicing their concerns and 15% were dismissed.
The results of the survey come ahead of the imminent changes to whistle-blowing laws, which are due to come into force on 25 June 2013.
Currently, for there to be a qualifying disclosure, the information disclosed must, in the reasonable belief of the worker, tend to show that one of following has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur:
- A criminal offence;
- Breach of any legal obligation;
- Miscarriage of justice;
- Danger to the health and safety of any individual;
- Damage to the environment; or
- The deliberate concealing of information about any of the above.
In addition, disclosures are only protected if made in good faith.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996, so that a disclosure will only be a qualifying disclosure if, in addition to the above, the worker reasonably believes the disclosure is "in the public interest", but the requirement for it to be made in "good faith" will be removed. The caveat to this is that a Tribunal may reduce any award by up to 25% where it appears that the protected disclosure was not made in good faith. There will also be changes regarding who is deemed to be a worker under the new legislation.
It will be interesting to see how these changes are received and whether they impact on how employers deal with whistle-blowers. For more information on the protection afforded to whistle-blowers see the factsheet and other guidance, which can be found in the discrimination section of Employmentbuddy.