Malpractice rules tougher on employers

CHANGES to whistleblowing procedures implemented today will place an increased burden on employers, who are now set to face joint scrutiny by employment tribunals and regulation bodies.

Today’s changes will allow whistleblowers who make malpractice complaints against their employer to now involve the relevant regulator, including the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the Information Commissioner, Health & Safety Executive and HM Revenue and Customs alongside the Employment Tribunal, marking a change from the past when either the tribunals or the regulators were involved.

“Employers will now be faced with a tricky situation; do they proactively inform the regulators or wait to be investigated on what could be unsubstantiated claims? Regardless, they will need to address their strategy in dealing with issues raised by employees,” said Allen & Overy lawyer Sarah Henchoz.

The changes will appear on the Employment Tribunal claim form ET1, which will now include a box for complainers to tick if they want a regulator included in the investigation.

Employers will have to undergo two separate investigations on any whistleblower claims and should a settlement be reached with the Employment Tribunal, it could be unlikely that the regulator will stop its investigation.

Henchoz said the changes could cause an increased burden on regulators who will have to sift through claims to spot the “real” ones.

This year the FSA has seen a sharp hike in whistleblower claims, with complaint numbers climbing from 835 in 2007 to 1,890 this year. Employment tribunals last year saw 1,700 whistleblowing claims.

Recently, there has been a spate of whistleblowing cases, including evidence given to the FSA by former Cazenove partner Bertie Hatcher which led to the conviction of Malcolm Calvert who was charged with insider trading.