Press release

Government takes action to support whistleblowing

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Employees who blow the whistle on wrongdoing in the workplace will receive more information and support under new measures.

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Employees who blow the whistle on wrongdoing in the workplace will receive more information and support under new measures to strengthen whistleblowing legislation announced by Employment Relations Minister Jenny Willott.

The changes, the result of a call for evidence by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, include:

  • improved guidance on how whistleblowing works for employees
  • a new best practice guide to whistleblowing policies for employers
  • reviewing the effectiveness of the current process for referring a case to the appropriate regulator
  • the introduction of a duty on prescribed persons (eg regulators) to report annually on the number of cases they have received and whether these have been investigated
  • updating the prescribed persons list, including designating MPs as a prescribed person
  • giving relevant groups (eg student nurses) whistleblowing protections

The availability of clear information on who you can report wrongdoing to and how whistleblowing works in practice will give employees the confidence to come forward. Employers will also benefit from knowing what to do when an employee discloses wrongdoing.

Employment Relations Minister Jenny Willott said:

The changes we are making today (25 June 2014) will make the whistleblowing process more transparent and more effective. They will help employees speak out about wrongdoing without fear of reprisal, and help employers know how to act on these reports.

MPs will now be able to play a more prominent role in whistleblowing cases: people can go directly to their MP if their employer is not responding to their concerns, safe in the knowledge they will be protected from reprisals.

The government has also reaffirmed its position that claimants who win their case should have their employment tribunal costs reimbursed.

Work to implement these changes will begin immediately, with the change on disclosures to MPs already in place and the inclusion of a reporting duty on prescribed persons in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

Notes to Editors

  1. The consultation on Whistleblowing ran from July to November 2013 and received 78 responses.
  2. The full government response can be found at Whistleblowing framework: call for evidence - government response.
  3. More detail on the changes announced today include:
    • improved guidance for individuals will include giving information on how to blow the whistle, examples on method and categories of disclosure, and clarifying issues such as the invalidity of ‘gagging clauses’
    • the best practice guidance on whistleblowing policies will include creating a model whistleblowing policy which businesses can adopt
    • the government position in relation to cost awards from Employment Tribunal claims is clear - if you are successful at Employment Tribunal you are likely to have your fees reimbursed by the respondent
    • the government will assess the effectiveness of the current whistleblowing ET1 referral system in order to establish whether any improvements need to be made
    • the introduction of a duty on prescribed persons to report annually on cases referred to them. This will include reporting on the number of disclosures received, number investigated, and the number with whistleblowing policies in place
    • update the prescribed persons list – to make sure it is current and remains so by reviewing and updating it annually
    • include relevant groups currently excluded from the protections – we will include student nurses and keep this area under review and consult if further changes are considered necessary
    • explore options to celebrate those employers who embrace whistleblowing in their organisations
  4. Prescribed persons list includes those organisations or persons outside the whistleblowers’ company that they can report wrong doing to (eg MPs, regulators, and ombudsman).
  5. The addition of MPs to the prescribed persons lists came into effect on 6 April 2014.
  6. The UK is a great place to set up a business and more people than ever are beginning new enterprises. The government is backing business every step of the way and introducing legislation to help make the UK the most attractive place to start, finance and grow a business. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. will help to build a stronger and fairer economy by supporting small businesses as they compete, and ensure they are not disadvantaged by those that do not play by the rules. It will foster and back the entrepreneurial spirit and build on the UK’s reputation as a fair and trusted place to do business. The bill sets out measures to help hard working people have confidence in their employers and reduce the barriers that can hold businesses back from growth.
Published 25 June 2014