Protection for whistleblowers to be strengthened

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Whistleblowers will be protected from bullying and harassment from their colleagues under new amendments made to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, announced by the Government this week.

Currently, workers who make protected disclosures are protected from adverse treatment by their employer.

The amendment extends that protection to whistleblowers by introducing a provision that treats detrimental acts of one employee towards another as being done by the employer, making the employer responsible. It also includes a defence for employers that are able to show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the detrimental treatment of the colleague.

This move follows an amendment made to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill by the Government to remove the good-faith requirement for a whistleblowing disclosure. At present, individuals are protected only where the disclosure is made in good faith.

The new protection, known as “vicarious liability”, mirrors provisions which already exist in equality legislation.

Employment relations minister Jo Swinson said: “This amendment takes into account recent events and will place whistleblowers, who are making a difficult decision, in a better position.

“They will now have a specific employment protection in place and be able to have the full force of a tribunal behind them if they suffer any detriment, bullying or harassment from a co-worker.”

Swinson added that the change will not affect good employers who see that it as their responsibility to make sure their employees have a good working environment.

Further detail on the amendment to the ERR Bill is available here on XpertHR.

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