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Blowing the whistle in the public interest

24 June 2012

A number of provisions of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 are in force tomorrow. This includes the requirement that a disclosure must be made “in the public interest” to protect a worker from detrimental treatment. This will narrow down the scope for employees to bring whistleblowing claims as an alternative to unfair dismissal.

Previously, as long as the information disclosed tended to show that one of the protected categories had taken place (for example a criminal offence, or danger to health and safety), the worker would gain protection.

The change means that it is unlikely that a worker who blows the whistle about breaches of their own employment contract will be protected. There will undoubtedly be arguments over what “in the public interest” means. For example, does a worker who discloses to their manager that they are being discriminated against, and fear others are too, believe there to be a public interest in disclosing this information?

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