The Government has recently announced further amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which will extend the protection for whistleblowers against bullying or harassment at work.
The current position is that whistleblowers are only protected against harassment or bullying by their employer. These proposed amendments will extend the scope of this protection to bullying and harassment by co-workers for which the employer will be responsible. Employers will however have a defence should they be able to show that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent the detrimental treatment of a worker who blew the whistle. Employers should therefore be vigilant in a whistleblowing situation and ensure they stay alert to any potential bullying or harassment of whistleblowers. Should an employer be aware of any harassment/bullying and take no steps to stop this, they could find themselves vicariously liable for the acts of their employees.
Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said “the protection offered by whistleblowing legislation is strong but there are always ways to improve it. This amendment takes into account recent events and will place whistleblowers, who are making a difficult decision, in a better position. They will now have a specific employment protection in place and be able to have the full force of a Tribunal behind them if they suffer any detriment, bullying or harassment from a co-worker”.