The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (the "Act") introduces significant measures to ensure that workers are not penalised for making a “protected disclosure”, often referred to as "whistleblowing".
Employers should be mindful of the following provisions of the Act:
- The Act applies to “workers” and not just employees, and includes independent contractors, casual workers, agency workers, trainees, etc.
- The Act prohibits the “penalisation” of a worker who makes a protected disclosure.
- A protected disclosure includes matters such as the commission of an offence, failure to comply with a legal obligation or a threat to the environment, etc.; it does not however include breaches of an obligation in relation to the individual worker’s contract of employment.
- “Penalisation” includes disciplinary action, suspension, lay-off or dismissal.
- An employee who has been penalised for whistleblowing can be awarded up to 5 years’ remuneration as compensation.
Employers should introduce a whistleblowing policy or review their current whistleblowing policy for compliance with the Act.