Whistleblowers protection already in place
Ireland adopted the Public Disclosure Act legislation in 2014, also called the whistleblower legislation, to protect people who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace.
The act is to be amended to enhance the protection it already provides and fit with the EU Directive requirements.
Ireland is one of the Member States which already had some comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation in place, and aims to exceed the EU Directive standards in its transposition into irish law.
Current implementation status
National whistleblower law was signed into law by Ireland’s President and entered into force on July 21st, 2022.
This makes Ireland the eleventh country to adopt a legislation to transpose the EU directive.
The EU Commission has begun infringement proceedings against the majority of Member States who have failed to implement the requirements for minimum standards before the 17 December 2021 deadline, including Ireland.
Brodening Existing Regulations
The implementation of reporting channels was already mandatory for public organizations. Under the new amended Act, all private sector organizations with 50 employees or more must set up an internal whistleblowing system.
Organizations with 250 employees or more fall under this obligation from the date of commencement of the Act (July 21st, 2022), and organizations with 50 to 249 employees have until December 17th, 2023.
The scope of protected persons is extended by amending the definition of “worker”, now including shareholders, volunteers, trrainees, members of the administrative, board members, and job applicants.
The definition of a “relevant wrongdoing” that can be reported is amended to include breaches of EU law. However, interpersonal grievances or conflicts are not included under the scope of the Act. A person who raises an interpersonal grievances with their employer will not have special protection, but should still be able to raise the grievance through normal internal procedures.
Reporting Procedures & Diligent Follow-Up
A designated person for handling and follow up on disclosures must be appointed. This person will be appointed with specific requirements under the Act, including acknowledgement of disclosures, diligent follow-up with the informant, record keeping, assessment and feedback.
Acknowledgement of the receipt must be given within 7 days.
Feedback on the actions taken must be provided within 3 months, and ongoing written feedback until the investigation is finalized must be given every 3 months.
A new Office of the Protected Disclosures Comissioner is established to support the new measures.
The Commissioner will take on responsibility for transmitting all protected disclosures to the most appropriate authority.
Whistleblowers can choose to make a public disclosure and remain protected, including after having previously made the same report to their employer, prescribed person or relevant minister and seen no follow up.
Criminal Offenses and Penalties
The Act creates a range of new offences. Employers will be penalized when:
- They fail to implement internal whistleblowing channels
- Reporting persons are penalized or retaliated against, including when hindering a person from making a report, negative performance assessment, failure to convert temporary employment contract to a permanent one or a medical referral
- The identity of a whistleblower is disclosed without consentment
While breaching the confidentiality duty and disclosing whistleblowers identity without consent is considered a criminal offense, anonymous reporting is not a requirement.
Anonymous discolures are protected under the new Act, but Ireland’s new law does not require employers to provide an anonymous reporting option.
Get a Head Start
Having a flexible platform that can adapt to any legislation and regulations can give you a great head start. With Whispli, you can build up your solution according to your current needs, and modify it at any time.
You can start by complying to the minimum requirement of the EU Directive today and adjust to your local legislation later.
Get in touch with one of our expert and get a guided demo to see how Whispli can help your Organization to comply with the Directive.
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