Section 6B – Role of Ombudsmen in providing information and guidance

(1) An Ombudsman may provide information and guidance to an employee on any
matter concerning this Act (either on a request made at any time or at the Ombudsman’s discretion).
(2) If an employee notifies the Office of the Ombudsmen, orally or in writing, that
he or she has disclosed, or is considering the disclosure of, information under this Act, an Ombudsman must provide information and guidance to that employee on the following matters:
(a) the kinds of disclosures that are protected under this Act:
(b) the manner in which, and the persons to whom, information may be disclosed
under this Act:
(c) the broad role of each authority referred to in paragraph (a)(i) to (x) of the definition of appropriate authority in section 3(1):
(d) the protections and remedies available under this Act and the Human Rights Act 1993 if the disclosure of information in accordance with this Act leads to victimisation of the person making the disclosure:
(e) how particular information disclosed to an appropriate authority may be referred to another appropriate authority under this Act.

Commentary

This section allows an Ombudsman  to provide guidance and information to an employee of an organisation on a matter relating to this Act.  This can be done either, if a request is made or may be at the Ombudsmans discretion.  It also sets out the obligations on an Ombudsman to provide guidance and/or information to an employee if notified orally or in writing that such employee has or is considering to make a disclosure pursuant to this Act.

Under those circumstances, an Ombudsman is obliged to reveal to an employee:

  • What types of disclosures are in fact protected
  • How and to whom such disclosures can be made
  • An overview of the role of the various authorities quoted in the Interpretation section of the Act
  • What protections and remedies are applicable pursuant to the Act and if the disclosure leads or has led to some form of discrimination, the Human Rights Act provisions must be outlined to the employee
  • And also to explain as to how a disclosure made to an authority may in certain circumstances be referred to another authority.