Whistleblowing: Government Responds on Call for Evidence
The Government has issued its response to its call for evidence on the whistleblowing framework.
It has confirmed that:
- It does not intend to add to the categories of disclosure which qualify for protection. Although some gaps were identified in the responses, the Government considered that most were captured by the existing categories. It will therefore produce improved guidance to help identify what may or may not be covered when making disclosures under the existing categories;
- Provision will be made for student nurses to be covered by whistleblowing protections but no changes will be made to afford whistleblowing protection to any other categories at this point. In the light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that an LLP member can be a worker qualifying for whistleblower protection, it sees no need to legislate to give LLP members protection;
- Financial incentives to blow the whistle will not be introduced;
- It will work to improve guidance and create a model whistleblowing policy to improve understanding of how the whistleblowing provisions work, clarify an employer’s role in relation to whistleblowers and highlight the benefits to a business of embracing an open culture of whistleblowing. This proposal is intended to address concerns about fear of reprisals and uncertainty about whom disclosures should be made to;
- It will review annually the list of prescribed people to whom disclosures can be made and ensure that the list is updated online as soon as changes are made;
- In response to concerns that the employment tribunal (which can send details of a whistleblowing claims direct to a prescribed person) cannot easily identify the appropriate person to refer the issue to, the Government will work with HMCTS and prescribed bodies to evaluate the effectiveness of the current referral system with a view to making changes if appropriate; and
- Prescribed persons will be required to report annually on whistleblowing and the Government will consult on the matters which should be covered in the report. The Government envisages this would include the number of disclosures received, numbers investigated and of those claims investigated, the number of organisations which had a whistleblowing policy in place. This is intended to reassure whistleblowers that action is being taken to consider their disclosure and that it is not simply being ignored. This measure is being introduced through the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014.
The Government intends to complete work on guidance by the end of 2014 and changes that can be made via secondary legislation will be implemented by April 2015.
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