Whistleblower legislation enacted on the 15th of July 2014
The Protection of Disclosures Act 2014 which came into effect on the 15th of July 2014 has fulfilled the Government’s commitment to introduce comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation in Ireland.
The measures cover all employees, contractors, agency workers, and members of An Garda Siochana and Defence Forces, by introducing a statutory framework for workers to raise concerns regarding potential wrongdoing that has come to their attention in the workplace.
One of the most significant changes is that compensation of up to five years remuneration can be awarded where an employee is unfairly dismissed for having made a protected disclosure. Furthermore service limitations ordinarily required under unfair dismissal legislation will not apply where there is an unfair dismissal in the case of protected disclosures.
Where a whistleblower or member of his family is subjected to coercion, intimidation, harassment, or discrimination by a third party, there is provision in the legislation for a right of action against that person.
Whistleblowers will now be afforded civil immunity from actions for damages and qualified privilege under defamation law.
Employers should review their policies and procedures so that they include a whistleblowing policy that is separate to their Grievance policy.