As part of another package of measures in its so-called “red-tape” challenge, the government last week issued a call for evidence to look at the current whistleblowing laws.

Although it says that it wants to “better support those who take the often difficult decision to report wrongdoing at work”, Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson made clear that the main aim is to “increase the flexibility and efficiency of the labour market”. Rather surprisingly, therefore, it has asked for evidence to consider whether the law governing whistleblowing is protecting whistleblowers or whether there are barriers that stop them from coming forward.

At the same time, the government published its response to a consultation on reforming the rules governing legislation in the recruitment sector. It says it intends to reduce regulation in the recruitment sector, while at the same time retaining protection for workers by:

  • restricting employment agencies and employment businesses from charging fees to those seeking work
  • ensuring that employment businesses do not withhold payment from temporary workers
  • ensuring clarity about who is responsible for paying temporary workers for the work they have done
  • helping the most vulnerable workers by focusing on enforcing the regulations.

It also published its response to a consultation on the Early Conciliation (EC) process, which will be introduced in early 2014, making it mandatory to contact Acas and consider resolving a dispute outside of the tribunal system with the help of a conciliator.

This includes the content of the draft Early Conciliation request form for accessing it and the sign-off certificate. This, however, does not identify the number of days in Early Conciliation so the claimant will need to work it out for themselves for limitation purposes.

The consultation states that:

  • an Early Conciliation triggered by an employer will not stop the limitation clock from ticking
  • interim relief will be exempted from EC
  • where Acas establishes that the respondent is insolvent they will simply issue the EC certificate
  • Acas can use their discretion about how long they should persist in seeking a response from recalcitrant parties

To respond to the Call for Evidence on whistleblowing framework, visit the website.
Read the government’s response on reforming the regulatory framework for employment agencies.
Read the government’s response on proposals for implementing Early Conciliation, [ PDF 335KB]
Read Thompsons' response to the Public Concern at Work whistleblowing commission.
Read Thompsons' response to the consultation on employment agencies.
Read Thompsons' response to the Early Concilisation consultation.