On May 10, Hon. Chris Hipkins, Member of Parliament in New Zealand, announced that the country’s whistleblower act was updated with the passage of the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act of 2022.
According to the news release, the Act replaces the country’s Protected Disclosures Act 2000 and “makes the disclosure process easier, extends and clarifies the grounds under which protected disclosures can be made and provides increased protection for whistleblowers.” The release states that the new Act “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,” the release states.
The new Act is “more people-focused and will make the rules easier to access, understand, and use,” Hipkins, who represents Remutaka and is the Minister for COVID-19 Response, Minister of Education, and Minister for the Public Service, 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.”
Hipkins added, “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.”
He explained that another feature of the new Act and an improvement from its predecessor is that “a person, from any organisation or business, can make a protected disclosure direct to an appropriate authority at any time — instead of needed to disclose to their employer first.”
“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,” Hipkins said in the release.