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Blog  »  June 2022  »  Upcoming changes to the Whistleblowing Legislation - Blog
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Upcoming changes to the Whistleblowing Legislation

Whistleblowing is formally known as ‘making a protected disclosure’. The law protects employees who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace. You are also protected if you are dismissed or penalized for reporting possible wrongdoing.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014, provides protection from penalization for workers in all sectors who make a protected disclosure, otherwise known as whistleblowing. This includes protection against being dismissed, demoted, denial of access to promotion, etc. The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 was amended by the EU (Protection of Trade Secrets) Regulations 2018 which introduce a public interest requirement for protected disclosures that contain trade secrets.

With the Act being one of the most robust whistle-blowers acts in Europe, the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 must be strengthened to give effect to the EU Whistleblowing Directive. In February, the Government published the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022, which will transpose the “EU Whistle-blower Directive”.

The EU Whistle-blower Directive was originally intended to have been implemented in Ireland by 17 December 2021. Nevertheless, this legislation is still undoing the legislative process and is expected to take effect later this year.

The amended law will make it mandatory for all public sector organisations and all private-sector employers with 50 or more employees to establish and maintain internal reporting channels and procedures for employers to make protected disclosures.

In addition, the amendment to this legislation will expand the definition of relevant wrongdoing, reverse the burden of proof in alleged penalisation claims, and expands the forms of punishment that employees may seek interim relief from other than dismissal. Every organisation will be required to have a designated person who acknowledges, provides feedback, and handles complaints in accordance with the strict timeline. Punishment in certain cases will now carry criminal penalties, including If the confidentiality of the identity of a reporting person is breached.

These laws will initially apply to all public sector organisations and private sector organisations with 250 or more employees as of this spring. From 17th December 2023, private sector organisations with 50 or more employees will have to comply, although the Bill allows the Minister to reduce the threshold below 50 for certain classes of employers.

Whistle-blowing policies should be reviewed and updated now by employers, especially those within the private sector, ahead of the upcoming introduction of the enhanced regime.



Posted in Employment Law