New Whistleblowers Act comes into force in July
The long-anticipated Protected Disclosures Act 2022 will commence in just a few months, providing greater protections for New Zealand whistleblowers and making the disclosure process easier, says the Government.
The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022 will replace the Act of 2000, providing significant improvements on the old Act, including extending and clarifying the grounds under which protected disclosures can be made.
“This will greatly improve how we protect disclosers across both the public and private sectors,” says Minister for the Public Service Chris Hipkins. “It is more people-focused and will make the rules easier to access, understand, and use”.
The changes follow 2019 research commissioned by the Ombudsman which found public awareness of the Protected Disclosures Act ‘very low’, and that only 40% of New Zealanders felt their jobs would be safe if they reported wrongdoing.
A further 34% of those surveyed said their job “wouldn’t be safe”, and 27% said they were “unsure” what effect speaking up would have on their job security.
Applying to organisations such as small businesses, government agencies, and non-government associations, the new Act will include new rules around confidentiality about individuals who have made the disclosure, immunity from disciplinary action for those making a disclosure, and will offer protection from retaliation through the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1993.
The Bill is now awaiting Royal Assent and will commence in July. In the interim, the Government says it will work to build awareness of the new legislation, so that both organisations and the individuals within them understand what protections are available.
“It’s vital that employees and workers can freely speak up when they have concerns about ethics, risks, financial impropriety and safety in the workplace – without the fear of recrimination.”
The new Act covers wrongdoing in, or by, any organisation, including small businesses, government agencies, and non-government associations and is relevant to anyone who has worked or volunteered for them, says Hipkins.
“Another key improvement to the Act means a person, from any organisation or business, can make a protected disclosure direct to an appropriate authority at any time – instead of needing to disclose to their employer first,” Chris Hipkins said.
Read the bill here.
If you have questions around the new legislation and how it will affect your business, contact Report it Now.