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NEW PROTECTION FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS STARTS IN JULY

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Employees who blow the whistle about wrongdoing at work - and are ...
Employees who blow the whistle about wrongdoing at work - and are

victimised by employers - will get protection next month.

New regulations laid before parliament today will bring the

provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 into force on

Friday 2 July, subject to parliamentary approval.

Minister of state at the DTI Ian McCartney said:

'The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 is intended to end the

'cover-up culture' that prevails in some organisations, where

workers fear victimisation if they tell their bosses of a major

problem.

'This legislation can help ensure that potential disasters are

averted and could save lives and prevent financial loss. Recent

transport disasters and banking collapses have underlined the

importance of openness and vigilance in identifying and resolving

problems at work.

'Where wrongdoing takes place it should be recognised and dealt with

as soon as possible. This is in the interests of all parties -

workers, employers and the public at large -and can only happen if

employers and employees work together.'

The Act has been widely welcomed by employer and worker

organisations. It will not only protect responsible workers who bring

attention to wrongdoing, but will also have wider benefits for the

identification and resolution of problems in the work place.

Notes

1. There are two sets of regulations:

One covers 'prescribed persons', which are organisations to whom a

worker may 'blow the whistle'.

Another sets out compensation for whistleblowers who are unfairly

dismissed, and this will not be subject to a monetary limit.

A further measure was laid - the commencement order - which provides

for the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 to come

into force on 2 July 1999. Similar measures will shortly be made for

Northern Ireland.

2. The 1998 Act, which received royal assent last year, provides

remedies to employees who are dismissed or subjected to detriment for

making a disclosure about criminal offences, breaches of legal

obligation, miscarriages of justice, health and safety dangers,

environmental risk or any 'covers ups' relating to these matters.

3. There will be no limit on compensatory awards in cases of

dismissal, ensuring that employees at all levels of an organisation -

from the factory floor to the boardroom - will be fully compensated

if they lose their jobs for blowing the whistle.

4. The draft Bill was the subject of public consultation in December

1997-January 1998 - which showed that is was widely welcomed. The Act

does not place any specific requirements on employers, but it does

provide for disclosures to be protected when made via internal

procedures, and employers may wish to encourage the use of such

procedures as an effective means of identifying problems at an early

stage.

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