‘Protected disclosures’ in Ireland

25 September 2013

 

The Bill is intended to provide a statutory framework within which workers can make certain disclosures in the public interest about concerns regarding potential wrongdoing in the workplace, in the knowledge that protection is available if the workers are penalised by their employer or suffer any detriment for making the disclosures.

The Bill will provide a mechanism for workers to make ‘protected disclosures’ to a ‘prescribed person’, and closely follows the UK’s whistleblowing framework. As in the UK, the motivation for making a disclosure will be irrelevant to whether or not the disclosure is protected, i.e. it will not have to be made ‘in good faith’.

If the Bill is passed, the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 will be amended to give whistleblowers the following protection:

No length of service requirement to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

  • Compensation of up to a five years’ pay in the case of an unfair dismissal for having made a protected disclosure.
  • Protection from victimisation.
  • Protection from suffering a detriment for having made a protected disclosure.
  • Civil immunity except in respect of defamation, but with qualified privilege under the Defamation Act 2009.

If the new laws are passed, potential whistleblowers will still face difficult judgements about the disclosure of suspicions and concerns because ‘getting it wrong’, and therefore making an “unprotected disclosure”, may expose them to disciplinary action and action for breach of confidentiality.

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