Employment law: calls to increase whistleblower protection

Present employment laws do not sufficiently protect whistleblowers

A new study has implied that present employment laws fail to sufficiently protect and compensate whistleblowers.

According to Blueprint for Free Speech (BFS), the Public Interest Disclosure Act (Pida) fails to include clear-cut measures to protect employees if they get sacked, or are harassed at work for reporting any wrongdoing, such as abuse, corruption, or if they report a crime.

The study by the BFS suggests that the present employment laws do not have enough power behind them to penalise anyone that may retaliate against whistleblowers and they are only offered legal protection after proving proof that they have become the victim of harassment because of their conduct.

International whistleblower expert, Dr Suelette Dreyfus, who was also the co-author of the report said: “Pida has not kept pace with our understanding of how to protect whistleblowers, or with increasingly advanced tactics for retaliation.”

She went on to say that the current law “is not providing the protection it should”, despite being considered “internationally as a gold standard when it was passed in 1998”.

At a recent awards ceremony in London, the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the BFS hosted the Blueprint for Free Speech prize evening, which highlighted the courage and honesty of whistleblowers and the positive impact they show in the public’s interest.

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Employment Law: How to abide by probationary period rules

Being ‘on probation’ does not mean that you don’t have rights

In many businesses, it is now common for employers to require new employees to carry out a probationary period before they are permanently accepted for the position.

However, even though your new employee is ‘on probation’, they do still have statutory employment rights.

There are a number of points that employers need to remember and guidelines for them to follow when it comes to dealing with a new employee on their probationary period.

Employees who begin a new role ‘on probation’ are still entitled to the same statutory employment rights as the other members of staff. The length of time a person has worked for their employers decides what statutory rights they are entitled to but those on probation are treated no differently.

Probationary employees are also covered against unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination and are entitled to statutory sick pay, the national minimum wage and time off depending on the circumstances.

The same rights apply to probationers who need time off to attend antenatal or adoption appointments and are also entitled to time off with pay for family related issues. A female probationer is entitled to maternity leave and could also qualify for statutory maternity leave.

Employees on probation are also covered against unlawful dismissal, such as disability discrimination. If an employee on probation suffers from a disability and has time off because of this, the employer must make acceptable arrangements.

If the new employee fails their probationary period, the employer is within their rights to cancel their contract. If during the probationary period the employee has had less statutory holidays than they have accumulated, the employer needs to make sure the employee receives a payment on termination of their employment.

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