The Protected Disclosures Bill 2013 on Whistleblowing Protection was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and signed by the President in July 2014.
The new legislation provides comprehensive whistleblower protection across all sectors of the economy and will co-exist alongside the existing limited protection available in certain sectors of the economy.
Protection is provided to a worker who makes a protected disclosure of relevant information to their employer, prescribed person (as prescribed by the Minister), Government Minister, legal advisor, trade union official or disclosure in other cases as set out the Bill. There is no mandatory requirement to disclose the relevant information to the employer at first instance; however the stepped approach to disclosure as set out in the legislation is designed to encourage workers to raise the issue internally.
The protection available to workers protects against a resulting dismissal and any penalisation a worker may experience due to making a protected disclosure. The Bill introduces a number of amendments to the Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977 to 2007; there is no service requirement to avail of the protection in the Bill, and the redress available for dismissal by reason of making a protected disclosure is increased from 104 weeks to 260 weeks.
The legislation places a statutory duty on public sector employers to put in place policies and procedures to deal with whistleblowing. However it is advisable for all employers to have a policy and procedures covering protected disclosures in place, including a clear reporting structure.