New compliance content ahead of commencement
Previously we’ve released compliance content in advance for important new legislation like the new Privacy Act in 2020.
Now we’ve released content for the new Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022 (the 2022 Act) ahead of its 1 July 2022 commencement date.
The 2022 Act replaces the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 (the 2000 Act) and will apply to both public and private sector organisations. The new compliance content is available for you now in the Employment category of your ComplyWith Obligations Register.
The 2022 Act builds on the obligations in the 2000 Act to investigate serious wrongdoing and protect people who report serious wrongdoing in an organisation (called disclosers in the Act and sometimes known as whistleblowers).
Some of the key changes for employers in the 2022 Act are summarised below. For more details see your ComplyWith Obligations Register.
Expanded definition of ‘serious wrongdoing’
The definition of serious wrongdoing has been expanded to explicitly include a serious risk to an individual’s health and safety, and misconduct by organisations carrying out public sector functions. Risks to an individual’s health and safety could include not only physical risks but also health risks such as bullying and harassment.
Enhanced protections for Whistleblowers
Protections for disclosers have been enhanced including new protections for people who provide information in support of a protected disclosure, clarifying that retaliation includes not only dismissal but also other actions to the detriment or disadvantage of a disclosing employee, and a new obligation not to treat someone less favourably because of a protected disclosure.
New processes for receiving protected disclosures and ‘guidance’ that works more like rules
The 2022 Act includes a new process setting out what organisations receiving a disclosure should do within 20 working days. This new process is described as ‘guidance’ but not following it gives a discloser a right to make a further disclosure to a Minister (or the Speaker in some cases), and for public sector organisations, could result in an Ombudsman investigation. Public sector organisations’ internal procedures (see below) are also required to be consistent with the process.
Internal procedures will need to be updated
The information that public sector organisations must include in their internal procedures about serious wrongdoing has been significantly expanded, and includes describing how practical assistance and advice will be provided to disclosers (whistleblowers).
All organisations will need to review their protected disclosures - whistleblower procedures in light of the 2022 Act. Your Obligations Register compliance content is a valuable plain-English resource to help with this.
The Public Service Commission gives some more information about the upcoming changes in its Guidance: Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022.