Protected disclosure

People who report serious wrongdoing in the workplace (sometimes called ‘whistleblowing’) can be protected by the Protected Disclosures Act 2022.

An employee or former employee makes a protected disclosure (sometimes called ‘whistleblowing’) when they report serious wrongdoing that they believe on reasonable grounds is, or has been, occurring in their workplace.

Making a protected disclosure must not be done in bad faith – this means acting with dishonesty or bad intent. It must also be done in line with workplace policies or done to the head or deputy head of the organisation.

A protected disclosure can also be made to an appropriate authority at any time. For more information on protected disclosures and a list of appropriate authorities, visit the Office of the Ombudsman website.

Serious wrongdoing at work (protected disclosure) – Ombudsman New Zealand(external link)

If an employee makes a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022, their employer can’t retaliate or threaten to retaliate against them. An example of retaliating is taking disciplinary action against the employee who made the disclosure.

If an employer does take action against an employee for making a protected disclosure, then the employee:

  • can raise a personal grievance
  • may be able to bring an action under the Human Rights Act 1993 if the employer treats the employee worse because they (or, for example, their relative or friend) intend to make, have made or have encouraged someone else to make a protected disclosure.
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