We first covered whistle-blowing in December 2012, following questions asked at the BVNA Conference. The subject continues to attract a high level of interest and there have been further developments in the legislation relating to the subject.

The whistle-blowing policy can be followed if you think there could be malpractice or wrongdoing happening within your workplace, then you can “blow the whistle” on the behaviour by making what is known as a ‘qualifying disclosure’ to an external body as defined in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

In an employment law update, the new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA) has precipitated a series of changes.

From 25th June 2013, a ‘qualifying disclosure' means any disclosure of information that, in the reasonable belief of the worker, is made in the public interest. This might include:

   a criminal offence, including offences such as theft, fraud or acts of bribery

   a breach of legal obligation

   a miscarriage of justice

   a danger to the health and safety of any individual

   damage to the environment

   deliberate concealment of information tending to show any of the above five factors.

Your practice should ensure that its whistle-blowing policy explains what constitutes a ‘protected disclosure’.

Your practice should ensure the requirement to make a qualifying disclosure ‘in good faith’ has been removed, and should amend this section in its policy.

You will not be able to ‘blow the whistle’ about breaches of your own employment contracts. This will need to be made clear in the policy. If you want to make a complaint in connection with your contract of employment, then you must follow the practice’s grievance procedure’.

Under the revised Act, the practice will be responsible for all acts of victimisation, harassment and bullying of whistle blowers carried out by other employees. This will introduce the principle of vicarious liability into the whistle-blowing provisions. Therefore, practices will have to show that they took ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent this happening.

Practices should ensure that they have a robust policy in place and ensure that all staff are made aware of the policy. 


For further support with this or any other HR issue, BVNA members can call the BVNA IRS Helpline on 01822 870270 or e-mail nicky.ackerley@hrsupportconsultancy.co.uk


Nicky Ackerley BA(Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA's Industrial Relations Service since it began in 2002.

• VOL 28 • August 2013 • Veterinary Nursing Journal