Submission to the Labour Party Policy Commission September 2009
Strengthen protection for people who raise concerns about public services
- There should be a statutory rightto raise concerns about wrongdoing without fear of retaliation.
- Employers are encouraged by the legislation to have whistleblowing/confidential reporting procedures. Parliament should impose a statutory duty to establish internal procedures and train staff in their use.
- Statutory protection is dependent on the worker acting in good faith. This may inhibit some important disclosures. Reasonable suspicion should be all that is needed. The test should be that the discloser has an honest belief on reasonable grounds that there is, has been,or will be wrongdoing. The burden of proof should be on employers to show that this was not so.
- Whistleblowers should have a right to disclose to external recipients like trade unions and MP’ s.
- Recipients of concerns should be obliged to formally record that a disclosure was made and how it was handled. They should have a duty to assess and act on a disclosure where appropriate and to keep the whistleblower informed.
- An agency should be given responsibility for overseeing the legislation, set standards, conduct investigations, advise employers and employees, legal aid, report to Parliament etc.
- Disclosures and investigations should be kept confidential as far as possible.
- Whistleblowers should be protected against criminal and civil liability and other detriments imposed by professional bodies.
- Employers should be required to assess the risk of a whistleblower suffering detriment and take remedial action if it occurs.