Significant improvements are being made in New Zealand workplaces to better protect whistleblowers, Minister for the Public Service Chris Hipkins said today.
“The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022 replaces the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. It is more people-focused and will make the rules easier to access, understand, and use,” Chris Hipkins said.
“This Government is committed to protecting New Zealanders who speak up about serious wrongdoing in the workplace, and this will greatly improve how we protect disclosers across both the public and private sectors.
“One of New Zealand’s strengths is the high regard in which New Zealand Government and business organisations are held for their honesty and integrity.
“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 Protected Disclosures Act 2022 makes the disclosure process easier, extends and clarifies the grounds under which protected disclosures can be made and provides increased protection for whistleblowers.
It 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.
The Act also provides clearer protection for people to speak up about wrongdoing, while protecting the whistleblowers themselves. It ensures confidentiality around who has made the disclosure, immunity from disciplinary action for making the disclosure, and protection from retaliation through the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1993.
“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.
“In the lead up to the Act’s commencement in July, we will build awareness of the new legislation – so that organisations know what they need to do, and people can better understand the protections available and feel safer raising their concerns when they do see something seriously wrong in their workplace,” Chris Hipkins said.