I want to report some serious wrongdoings at my workplace but don’t want to lose my job. Who can help?

If you’re concerned about serious wrongdoing in or by your organisation, you can be protected from any disciplinary or other retaliatory action if you tell someone about the wrongdoing (this is often called ‘Whistle-blowing”).

It’s the role of the Ombudsman to provide information and guidance to employees who want to make protected disclosures.

The Ombudsman can provide information about:

  • the kinds of disclosures that are protected under the Act 
  • to whom information can be disclosed, and how 
  • the broad roles of the various appropriate authorities listed in the Act 
  • the protections and remedies available under the Act, and under the Human Rights Act 1993, if you are victimised for revealing the information 
  • the right of an appropriate authority to refer the disclosed information to another appropriate authority

The Ombudsmen and their staff will keep any information which identifies you confidential – although there are specific situations where the Act allows them to disclose it.
Ombudsmen’s staff in the Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices specialise in answering queries about the Protected Disclosures Act. See their contact details on their website.

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What would be considered “serious wrongdoing”?

Serious wrongdoings include:

  • criminal offences   
  • illegal use of funds or resources by a public agency  
  • conduct that is a serious risk to public health or safety  
  • gross negligence or mismanagement by a public official 

Employees includes ex-employees, volunteers, contractors, homeworkers and people seconded to organisation.

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What is a protected disclosure?

A protected disclosure is when an employee discloses wrongdoing in their workplace (i.e. whistle-blowing) under the protection of the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. 

Employees (whistleblowers) who disclose information about serious wrongdoings committed by their employers or work colleagues are protected by the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. This means an employee (whistleblower) can’t be disciplined for making a protected disclosure or for referring one to an appropriate authority.

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How do I make a protected disclosure?

To make a protected disclosure, you will generally need to follow your workplace’s internal procedures for dealing with information about serious wrongdoing.

If your organisation doesn’t have internal procedures, or you believe the person you have to make the disclosure to, is involved in the serious wrongdoing, you can make a protected disclosure to the head of the organisation instead.

If you believe the head of the organisation is involved in the wrongdoing, you can make a protected disclosure to an appropriate authority.

You can also make a protected disclosure to an appropriate authority if you’ve already followed your organisation’s internal process but no action has been taken (or recommended) within 20 working days, or if it is urgent.