Public interest test is introduced into whistleblowing legislation in Northern Ireland

Implementation date: 1 October 2017

The Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (Commencement No.1) Order (Northern Ireland) 2017 (SR 2017/199) makes changes to whistleblowing legislation. The changes include: introducing a public interest test; removing the requirement that a disclosure must be made "in good faith" (which will be considered by a tribunal in relation to remedy, rather than liability); imposing vicarious liability where a worker or an agent of the employer subjects a colleague to a detriment for whistleblowing; and extending the definition of "worker" to include public interest disclosure protections for student nurses and student midwives. The order also contains a power to make regulations to introduce a requirement on employers that are "prescribed persons" to report annually on whistleblowing claims that they receive.