Protections for whistleblowing
When is a disclosure protected?
To make a protected disclosure, you must be an employee of the organisation you are making the disclosure about.
There is a wide range of workers who can make disclosures about their workplace. These include
- people seconded to the organisation
- board members
Your disclosure will be protected if you make it within your workplace, either:
- through their internal procedures, or
- to the head or deputy head of the organisation
- to an Appropriate Authority
- you believe there has been serious wrongdoing in your workplace (even if your belief turns out to be mistaken)
Your disclosure won’t be protected if:
- you know the allegations are false
- you act in bad faith, or
- the information you’re disclosing is subject to legal professional privilege.
How you are protected
Your identifying details must be kept confidential unless you consent to the disclosure or if disclosure is essential to:
- the effective investigation of the allegations
- prevent serious risk to public health or safety or the environment
- comply with the principles of natural justice;
- an investigation of law enforcement (by a law enforcement or regulatory agency)
If you believe your confidentiality has been breached you can complain to the Privacy Commissioner.
No civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings can be taken against you for making a protected disclosure.
If your employer retaliates against you for making a protected disclosure (e.g. by firing, demoting or mistreating you), you can take personal grievance proceedings under the Employment Relations Act.
Under the Human Rights Act you can’t be treated less favourably than others in the same or similar circumstances. If you are a whistle-blower who is victimised in this way, you may have legal remedies under the Human Rights Act.