New law regarding whistleblowers: What do sport and recreation organisations need to know?

1 July 2022
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The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022 (Act) comes into force on 01 July 2022, replacing the Protected Disclosure Act 2000.  Sport and recreation organisations need to be up to date with the new requirements. The purpose of the Act is to aid the disclosure and timely investigation of serious wrongdoing and protect individuals who make disclosures.

All sport and recreation organisations, whether they are public sector or private sector, have responsibilities when receiving protected disclosures under the Act.

What is a protected disclosure?

A protected disclosure is a disclosure in good faith and in accordance with the Act where the discloser believes on reasonable grounds that there is or has been, serious wrongdoing in or by their organisation.

Who is a discloser?

A discloser is a person who has an employment or a similar type of relationship with the organisation they are disclosing about. This includes current and former employees, contractors, secondees, volunteers and board members.

What is a “serious wrongdoing”?

The Act extends the definition of serious wrongdoing. It now includes an act, omission or conduct which is one or more of the following:

  • An offence;
  • A serious risk to public health or safety, the health or safety of any individual (including workplace bullying and harassment), or the environment;
  • A serious risk to the maintenance of the law (including prevention, investigation, right to a fair trial etc.)
  • An unlawful, corrupt or irregular use of public funds or resources; or
  • Oppressive, unlawfully discriminatory, grossly negligent, or gross mismanagement by an employee of a public sector organisation or a person performing a function, duty or power on behalf of a public sector organisation.

 

What steps does an organisation have to take when receiving a protected disclosure?

The Act provides guidance about the steps your organisation is required to take following receipt of a protected disclosure. With some exceptions, you should within 20 working days of receiving the disclosure:

  1. Acknowledge the date the disclosure was received and, if the disclosure was made orally, summarise the receiver’s understanding of the disclosure;
  2. Consider the disclosure and whether it warrants investigation;
  3. Check with the individual whether the disclosure has been made under other legislation (such as the Employment Relations Act 2000 and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015) (and any outcome);
  4. Deal with the matter by investigating it, acting or recommending action, referring the disclosure elsewhere, and/or deciding that no action is required; and
  5. Inform the individual of the outcome and the reasons for what you have done or will do to deal with the matter.

 

Do I need a whistleblowing policy?

Every public sector organisation must have an internal whistleblowing policy that:

  • Sets out what the organisation must do as the receiver of a protected disclosure;
  • Identifies who in the organisation a protected disclosure may be made to;
  • Describes the protections available under the Act; and
  • Records how the organisation will provide practical assistance and advice to disclosers.

The Act does not require private sector organisations to have an internal whistleblowing policy in place. 

If you have questions about the Protected Disclosures Act 2022 or if you’d like help creating or reviewing your whistleblowing policy, please contact Gibson Sheat.