Whistle-blow Policy now a legal requirement for all workplaces
Protected Disclosures Act of 2000 Whistle Blowing Amendments – What Employers must know
On 2 August 2017, amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act of 2000 were published. The Amendment Act introduces several new provisions which broadens the application of the Act beyond the employer/employee relationship, and places further obligations on both whistle-blowers and employers.
The Protected Disclosures Act (PDA) came into effect on 16 February 2001 and provides procedures and protection to whistle-blowers in the private and public sector, who disclose information regarding unlawful or irregular conduct by their employers or fellow employees. It encourages a culture of good governance, accountability and transparency.
The protection extended to whistle-blowers by the Act is however not unconditional, and not all disclosures are protected. There are specific requirements which must be met in order to enjoy protection and employees need to understand what qualifies as a protected disclosure and when they can claim that they have suffered an occupational detriment. Practical Guidelines have been published by the Minister on 31 August 2011 to further guide employers and employees in this regard.
The recent amendments to the PDA on 2 August 2017 are of particular importance for employers. There are two new administrative obligations created by the Amendment Act, namely that (1) employers must formulate and document internal whistle-blowing procedures, and must bring this to the attention of all its employees; and (2) employers are required to respond in writing to a disclosure within 21 days and keep the employee/worker informed of steps being taken in relation to investigating the matter
Therefore, employers must ensure that they have measures and procedures in place to deal with employee disclosures and that these are communicated to their employees. Ideally this would be done by way of a company policy which is made available to all employees. Such a policy should indicate the types of irregular conduct which should be reported; stipulate the steps to be taken if a person wants to report it; and provide guidance on the specific information which should be provided in the disclosure. The employer should also provide training to their employees in this regard or make it part of educating employees in terms of the company’s ethics and its views on anti-corruption.
A further new provision introduced into the PDA by way of section 3B is the duty of the employer to inform an employee or worker of the steps taken once a disclosure has been made.
Purchase a Whistle Blowing Policy document from our web page under the section Policies for the Workplace to ensure your Company is legally compliant with the Act.