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Whistleblowing’ changes

11 March 2010

Changes affecting whistleblowing claims come into effect in April. Employment tribunals will have new powers to pass on information about public interest disclosures to relevant industry regulators where the claimant consents. For the employer, the potential for a spurious claimant to practice commercial blackmail will become just that little bit greater, says Willans’ expert Employment law team.

The changes will affect claims (or amended claims) arising on or after 6 April. Claim forms will now include a box for the claimant to tick, giving express consent for the employment tribunal to pass copies of the form (or extracts) to the relevant regulator. The claimant can opt for confidentiality or, if he prefers, he can go directly to the relevant regulator himself.

One consequence of the change is that a whistleblowing employee will now be able to increase leverage against an employer with the aim of obtaining a settlement. In reality, many claims are spurious and without merit. Yet these groundless complaints will now be passed on to third party regulators such as HMRC.

Take, for example, a situation where an employee has been dismissed and, in order to strengthen a claim against the employer, later suggests that he has disclosed that his former employer took an improper approach in relation to tax. Not only will the employer have to deal with the employee’s claim but also with what may be a subsequent investigation by HMRC.

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