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Whistleblowers to get better protection from harassment and bullying from co-workers

The protections available to whistleblowers are to be strengthened further, the Government has announced.

A proposed amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will mean that individuals who expose wrongdoings by their employer will have protection from bullying or harassment by their co-workers, as well as by their employer as the law now stands.

This protection, known as 'vicarious liability', mirrors provisions that already exist in equality legislation.

The amendment will introduce a provision which treats detrimental acts of one co-worker towards another who has made a complaint as being done by the employer, and therefore makes the employer responsible.

It will also provide a defence for an employer who is able to show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the detrimental treatment by a co-worker towards another who blew the whistle.

Employment relations minister Jo Swinson said: "The protection offered by whistleblowing legislation is strong, but there are always ways to improve it.

"This amendment takes into account recent events and will place whistleblowers, who are making a difficult decision, in a better position.

"They will now have a specific employment protection in place and be able to have the full force of a tribunal behind them if they suffer any detriment, bullying or harassment from a co-worker.

She added: "The change will not impact on good employers who see that it as their responsibility to make sure their staff have a good working environment."