If you believe there has been serious wrongdoing by or in the organisation you work for, and it relates to work health and safety, energy safety, or bullying or harassment at work (including sexual harassment), you can make a protected disclosure to WorkSafe. This is often called whistleblowing.

You must work (or have worked) for the organisation you are making the disclosure about. Under the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022(external link), workers include contractors, homeworkers, volunteers, and people seconded to the organisation.

Before making a protected disclosure to WorkSafe, please read the following information.

The purpose of the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act is to encourage people to report serious wrongdoing in their workplace by providing protection for employees who want to “blow the whistle”.

A disclosure of information is a protected disclosure if the discloser:

  • believes on reasonable grounds that there is, or has been, serious wrongdoing in or by the discloser’s organisation; and
  • discloses information about that in accordance with the Act; and
  • does not disclose it in bad faith.

A disclosure is only protected if it is made to the discloser’s organisation or an appropriate authority. Disclosures made to the media or on social media are not protected under the Act.

Examples of serious wrongdoing where WorkSafe may be the appropriate authority include actions, or failures to act, that:

  • are an offence under the law that we enforce, for example the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • cause a work-related serious risk to health and safety.
  • are related to gas or electricity and cause a serious risk to life or property.

If the matter is not a serious wrongdoing but you want to report it to WorkSafe, consider raising a health and safety concern with us or notify us of an unsafe gas or electrical product. You can ask that we keep your contact details confidential.

If you make a protected disclosure to WorkSafe, you are entitled to certain protections under the Act:

  • Information that identifies you will be kept confidential, unless you consent to it being disclosed or disclosure is essential to:
    • investigating the disclosure effectively.
    • preventing a serious risk to public health, public safety, someone’s health and safety, or the environment.
    • natural justice.
    • investigating for the purposes of enforcing the law.
  • You are immune from civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings in relation to making the protected disclosure. However, you are not protected from action being taken against you for any involvement in the wrongdoing.
  • Your employer cannot retaliate against you or treat you less favourably because you made the disclosure.

If anybody breaches your right to protection, you can take action under the relevant legislation, for example by claiming a breach of the Privacy Act, taking a personal grievance under the Employment Relations Act, or taking action under the anti-victimisation part of the Human Rights Act.

You are not entitled to protection under the Act if:

  • you know the allegations are false.
  • you make the disclosure directly to the media or on social media.
  • you make the disclosure in bad faith.
  • the information you are disclosing is protected by legal professional privilege.

WorkSafe is the appropriate authority for disclosures about offences or serious health and safety risks that are work-related, or about the safe supply of electricity or gas.

You can make a protected disclosure to WorkSafe about serious wrongdoing by or in your organisation if it involves serious health or safety risks, for example:

  • bullying or harassment, including sexual harassment.
  • gas or electricity.
  • hazardous substances.
  • forestry, construction, and farming.
  • machinery and other equipment.

WorkSafe’s role as an appropriate authority is to consider, check, and deal with disclosures of serious wrongdoing in or by the discloser’s organisation.

When we receive a protected disclosure, WorkSafe will:

  1. Check whether it meets the requirements to be a protected disclosure.
  2. Check with you whether you have made the disclosure to anyone else, and if so, what the outcome was (if you haven’t already told us).
  3. Consider the disclosure and whether it warrants investigation.
  4. Deal with the matter by doing one or more of the following:
    • Investigating the disclosure.
    • Addressing any serious wrongdoing by acting or recommending action.
    • Referring the disclosure to the organisation your disclosure relates to or to another appropriate authority (we will consult with you and the other authority before doing so).
    • Deciding that no action is required.
  1. Let you know what we have done (or are doing) to deal with the matter, and the reasons for our decision.

For more information on protected disclosures, see:

It depends on the situation. Protected disclosures are specifically aimed at protecting whistleblowers and must meet certain requirements. For example, you cannot make a protected disclosure if you have never worked for the organisation concerned.

Only make a protected disclosure if you:

  • are reporting serious wrongdoing (see above) by an organisation you work for (or have worked for), and
  • want the matter to be investigated, and
  • want the protections that a protected disclosure would give you.

If this isn’t the case, you can raise a health or safety concern or, if your concern relates to mental health at work, you can raise a mentally healthy work concern

Please note that for all disclosures and concerns, we will consider the matter but may decide not to take any action. See our When we intervene policy.

Even if we don’t take action, the information you provide will be kept on file for the organisation concerned and helps us build a picture of their health and safety culture.

 

How to make a protected disclosure 

If after reading the information above, you want to make a protected disclosure about serious wrongdoing by an organisation you work (or have worked) for, please email us at protected.disclosures@worksafe.govt.nz and include:

  • a clear statement that this is a protected disclosure.
  • your contact details.
  • the capacity in which you work, or have worked, for the organisation concerned, for example employee, contractor, volunteer, on the board, on secondment.
  • name and address of the organisation where the serious wrongdoing occurred or is occurring.
  • whether you have made the disclosure to anyone else, and if so the outcome.
  • a detailed description of the serious wrongdoing, including the date and time, people involved, names of any witnesses, how you became aware of the matter, and any other information to support your disclosure.