Protection announced for whistleblowers

Chris Boyle, head of employment at Napthens solicitors, has warned employers to be aware of government plans to give whistleblowers extra protection from bullying or harassment.

Chris-BoyleThe government is set to amend the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which will add protection for whistleblowers from their co-workers. Currently the law only protects whistleblowers against harassment or bullying from an employer.

Chris explained: “Whistleblowing is a hot topic at the moment, and the Government has moved fast to amend the existing legislation and make sure those who do lift the lid are encouraged to blow the whistle by giving extra protection. This follows case law last year which stated that an employer could not be liable for the conduct of its employees towards whistleblowers.

“Under the proposed amends, the actions of a co-worker – for instance bulling, harassment or generally less favourable treatment – will be treated as being carried out by the employer who can then be held responsible for the harassment and bullying that may have taken place. Other amends include the extension of whisteblowing protection to jobseekers.

“However, the employer will also be given protection, with plans to provide a defence as long as an employer can show it took all reasonable steps to prevent the mistreatment of a staff member. “These changes are significant and businesses need to consider how they will protect themselves and reduce their exposure of being liable for the actions of their employees.”