Important Changes to Whistleblowing Laws took effect on 25 June 2013

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Posted in:HR and Employment|June 25, 2013 | Join the mailing list

A number of important changes to the laws regulating protection for whistleblowers came into force on 25 June 2013. In this article we set out the main changes employers need to be aware of and the measures they can take to protect their
businesses in light of them.

The three key changes to the whistleblowing legislation are as follows:

1. Employers can now be held vicariously liable for the conduct of any of their workers who victimise a colleague for blowing the whistle. This brings the protection in line with the similar protection against victimisation provided under
the Equality Act 2010. 

2. In order for a worker to be protected where they have blown the whistle (or, as the legislation puts it, made a disclosure), they must now reasonably believe that the disclosure is made "in the public interest". However, no guidance has
been provided as to precisely what "in the public interest" will mean and this will therefore be left to interpretation by the Employment Tribunals.

3. The requirement that a whistleblower needs to make their disclosure "in good faith" in order to be protected has now been removed. The rationale for this is presumably that if the public interest is served by the disclosure, then it doesn’t
matter what motivation the worker had in making the disclosure. However, Tribunals will have the power to reduce the worker’s compensation by up to 25% if it is proved that the disclosure was not made by him or her in good faith.

Nigel Crebbin, Partner in the Berg Employment Team, commented: "We strongly recommend that employers have in place a comprehensive and effective whistleblowing policy or that they use this opportunity to review and amend any existing policies
they have so as to ensure their compliance with these recent important changes to the law. Employers can avoid vicarious liability by taking all reasonable steps to prevent their workers subjecting others to unlawful detriment for blowing the whistle. Having
in place an appropriate policy and providing training to the workforce on the requirements of that policy will go a long way to help employers establish this defence should a whistleblowing claim arise. Furthermore, it’s important that workers are encouraged
to raise issues with their employer first of all if they feel they have been victimised, as often issues can be resolved internally without the need for the wider exposure, cost and possible damage of an Employment Tribunal claim."

For more information about any of the above or for practical advice on this or any other aspect of employment law, please contact Nigel Crebbin of the Berg Employment Team on 0161 833 9211 or email us at

The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional
legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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