Changes to the whistleblowing laws took effect from 25 June 2013. Legal protection for whistleblowers was originally introduced in 1999 following various high profile scandals where staff had been aware of significant financial or health and safety risks but had not been able, or felt unable, to raise their concerns appropriately. Further scandals emerging recently over Jimmy Saville, Hillsborough and Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust have thrown the spotlight back onto this area of the law.
The recent changes are intended to increase protection for “genuine” whistleblowers whilst narrowing the scope of protected disclosures to those which are in the public interest.
The main changes:
- introduce a public interest test;
- remove the need for disclosures to satisfy a “good faith” requirement (though compensation can be reduced where an employee has not acted in good faith); and
- impose vicarious liability on an employer where a whistleblowing employee is victimised by co-workers.
The attached note explains the changes in more detail.