Government to strengthen protections for whistleblowers

The Government is strengthening the Protected Disclosures Act to provide better protection for whistle blowers, Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said today.

“The Protected Disclosures Act is meant to encourage people to speak up about serious wrongdoing in the workplace and protect them from losing their jobs or being mistreated.

“We know however that the Act is not working as well as it should and is seen as weak and confusing,” Chris Hipkins said. 

“It is crucial that employees feel safe to report cases of serious misconduct. Anyone who raises issues of serious misconduct or wrongdoing needs to have faith that their role, reputation, and career development will not be jeopardised.”

The Government will take a two-pronged approach to strengthening our protected disclosures regime. We will introduce several legislative amendments that will address the key deficiencies in the Act. These include:

  • Allowing people to report serious wrongdoing direct to an external authority if they wish
  • Strengthening protection for disclosers by outlining what those receiving disclosures must do
  • Requiring public sector organisations to provide support for disclosers
  • Extending the coverage of serious wrongdoing to include misuse of public funds or public authority by non-government organisations.

In addition, the State Services Commission will continue to work on further possible amendments to the Act, build awareness of the Act and existing standards and guidance, test the feasibility and usefulness of establishing reporting and monitoring arrangements and consider the potential for a ‘one stop shop’ for disclosures.

“Strengthening our protected disclosures regime is critical to maintaining public confidence in the integrity of government and business in New Zealand.  International research found that reporting by employees is the single most important method by which wrongdoing in, or by, an organisation is brought to light.

“These changes will give those making and receiving disclosures much greater clarity regarding the scope of the Act and greater understanding of and confidence in the process,” Chris Hipkins said.