The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistle-blowers) Bill
Government / 22 July 2020
The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistle-blowers) Bill (Bill), proposed to replace the existing law which is 20 years old, passed its first reading on 1 July 2020.
The intent of the Bill is to strengthen protection for those who disclose or ‘whistle-blow’ on serious wrongdoing in the workplace, making the law more accessible and easier to understand for ‘non-lawyers’.
The Bill proposes the following key changes:
- Extending the definition of ‘serious wrong doing’ to encompass misuse of public funds/resources and delivery of services by the private sector, expanding the current law from being heavily focused on the public sector;
- Allowing a discloser to report serious wrong doing directly to an appropriate authority at any time, rather than having to raise it internally in the first instance;
- Guidance on the process for disclosers and receivers of complaints and providing protection for mistaken disclosures made in good faith. A receiver is now required to acknowledge receipt of a disclosure and (within reason) provide information to the discloser about what is being done as a result;
- Confirmation that no proceedings can be taken against a discloser because of disclosure; and
- Guidance on what (optional) protected disclosures policies should include.
Messages for Employers
If the proposed changes come into force, organisations will need to reflect on any current policies and processes in place that address protected disclosures to ensure this accurately reflects the law. We will update as the Bill it progresses.
Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law and health and safety topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.