New Zealand Law Society - Chief Ombudsman seeks whistle blowing awareness

Chief Ombudsman seeks whistle blowing awareness

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Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is calling for leadership from businesses and government agencies in raising awareness of whistle blowing law in New Zealand.

In the latest issue of  the Ombudsman Quarterly Review, he says the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 (PDA) sets out how employees who witness wrongdoing in the workplace can confidentially report it, and the protections in place for those employees.

“The PDA is important legislation that covers all of New Zealand’s 2.6 million employees”, Mr Boshier says. “However, a recent survey by my Office found fewer than one in ten New Zealanders are aware of the Act.

“The survey also found that while a fifth of respondents had witnessed serious wrongdoing at work, only a third of them had made a protected disclosure about the issue”.

Only 40% of all respondents currently in work felt their jobs would be safe if they reported the wrongdoing, 34% said their job wouldn’t be safe and 27% were unsure. Lower paid workers were less convinced about their job security if they reported wrongdoing (31%).

Mr Boshier says it is essential for executive teams and boards to raise awareness of the PDA and reduce the risk of fraud and other serious misconduct going unreported.

He says the Ombudsman will shortly issue guidance on the processes organisations ought to have to make reporting as easy as possible, and without fear of repercussion for the whistle blower.