By Daniel Hunter

The government today (Thursday) announced that the protections available to whistleblowers are to be strengthened further.

The proposed amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will mean that individuals, who make the difficult decision to blow the whistle against their employer, will have protection from instances of bullying or harassment that may come from their co-workers. The current law only offers workers with protection from harassment or bullying by their employer.

This protection, known as “vicarious liability”, mirrors provisions which already exist in equality legislation.

The amendment will:

- introduce a provision which treats detrimental acts of one co-worker towards another who has blown the whistle, as being done by the employer and therefore makes the employer responsible; and

- provide a defence for an employer who is able to show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the detrimental treatment of a co-workers to towards another who blew the whistle.

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.

“The change will not impact on good employers who see that it as their responsibility to make sure their staff have a good working environment.”

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