The Isle of Man’s Department for Enterprise announced on July 1 that it is seeking comments on three legislative proposals, one of which centers around whistleblowing laws for the Island.
The consultation on whistleblowing legislation was opened on June 30 and closes on August 26. Individuals are encouraged to submit their views about several proposed changes to the current whistleblowing law. The consultation is also “seeking views on wider, more far-reaching changes to the statutory framework for whistleblowing in the Isle of Man, to ensure that we are doing our best to protect those who seek to address wrongdoing in the workplace,” the consultation paper from the Department for Enterprise states.
After the consultation period, the Department will “review and evaluate comments received from consultees,” “publish a review of the comments received,” and “set out the next steps for any legislative changes.” The consultation paper notes that if a consultee wishes for part or all of their reply to remain confidential, they must “indicate this clearly” in the reply they make.
This consultation comes on the heels of a December 2020 report from the Tynwald Select Committee on Whistleblowing. The report examines “the Isle of Man Government policy” as well as “the current legislative framework relating to protected disclosures in the Isle of Man.” The Committee “found neither are fit for purpose.”
Subsequently, Tynwald, the Isle of Man’s parliament, engaged in debate and then agreed to five recommendations aimed to improve the Isle of Man Government Whistleblowing policy and address issues in the current whistleblowing legislation for Isle of Man whistleblowers. Recommendation 5 is that “the Cabinet Office and the Department for Enterprise should jointly consult during 2021/22 on an all-encompassing statutory framework for Whistleblowing to cover: a) encouraging the raising of public interest concerns, b) the provision of monitoring and support, c) protection for whistleblowers and penalties for non-compliance, and d) the possible creation of an Isle of Man Concerns at Work service to provide oversight for the whole Island.”
The current whistleblower protection provisions for individuals living in the Isle of Man are in Part IV of the Employment Act 2006. According to the consultation paper, this provision is similar to the UK’s provision in the Employment Rights Act 1996. However, the Isle of Man’s whistleblower provisions have not been updated like the UK’s provisions: the whistleblower provisions for the Isle of Man thus lack some updates, like having a “public interest test requirement.”
Whistleblowing provisions in a draft Bill would address some of the issues in the Employment Act 2006, like “Amending the definition of a ‘qualifying disclosure’ to specify that only disclosures made in the public interest will qualify for whistleblowing protection.” The proposed Bill would also “[r]emove requirement that disclosures are made in ‘good faith’” and “Amend the provision to include vicarious liability – in other words to provide that an employer may be held responsible if another employee or ‘an agent’ of the employer subjects the whistleblowing employee to detriment.”
The Department for Enterprise is also seeking consultations on additional proposals outside of the Committee’s report, like “Introduction of provision to make it clear when a whistleblowing disclosure has been made” and “Maximum amount of compensation for unfair dismissal.”
In regards to Recommendation 5 from the Tynwald Select Committee’s report, the consultation paper lists recent history of strides made to enhance whistleblower legislation in the UK, EU, and Ireland. The paper lists 18 questions to prompt individuals to comment on specific aspects of legislative proposals.
According to the webpage, “[a] number of high profile cases over the years have highlighted the issue of whistleblowing and whether the Island’s legislative framework for protected disclosures could be strengthened.” Individuals can submit their responses online through the online survey found on the webpage.
In the news release, Tim Crookall MHK, the Minister for the Department for Enterprise, said, “We welcome feedback from this consultation exercise and are open to hearing the views of the Isle of Man business community and general public on these important issues.” He stated, “The Department has a clear commitment in the Island Plan to reform employment legislation and in bringing forward these consultations on these important proposals, we are hopeful that we can deliver meaningful improvements in our employment legislation ahead of schedule.”
On June 28, Whistleblower Network News reported on the Department of Health for Northern Ireland seeking consultation about a model framework for whistleblowing.