Tina Wisener is Partner at UK’s largest employment law firm, Doyle Clayton.
New whistleblowing laws came into place today. The main tenet of the changes revolves around the nature of disclosures - they have to be made in the public interest, whereas previously they needed to be made in good faith. Whether a disclosure has been made in the public interest will be decided in each case by an employment tribunal. There have also been changes with regard to internal victimisation of whistleblowers and where responsibility for this victimisation lies.
What does HR need to do in response to the changes in whistleblowing legislation?
1. Employers who do not already have a whistleblowing policy in place should act now and put one in place. The policy should state that if the employee’s concern relates to a matter which affects the employee’s employment directly or their own contract of employment, that should be raised through the company’s grievance procedure.
2. Employers who do have a whistleblowing policy need to review it and make it clear that workers are not allowed to victimise their colleagues who have blown the whistle. Make it clear that disciplinary action will be taken if any such victimisation occurs. Make any other changes needed to reflect the new laws.
3. Make sure that the disciplinary policy is updated so that it expressly allows for dismissal if an employee victimises a colleague for blowing the whistle. Include it in the list of gross misconduct offences.
4. Make sure that these changes are communicated to staff so that they understand that they must not victimise colleagues who have blown the whistle.
5. Ensure that the changes are included in any staff induction programmes or other training delivered to staff.
Jamie Lawrence is editor of global online HR publication and community HRZone.com. He is committed to driving forward the HR agenda and making sure that HR directors have the knowledge and insight necessary to make HR felt across the whole organisation. He regularly speaks to audiences of 250+ and has interviewed key HR industry names,...