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Whistleblowing and self-reporting
Are whistleblowers protected in your jurisdiction?
Whistleblowers are protected in Ireland by the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. Previously, the protection of whistleblowers was sector specific in Ireland (eg, in the areas of bribery, child protection, healthcare and workplace safety). The 2014 act introduced for the first time a general suite of employment protections and legal immunities for workers who may be at risk of penalisation by their employers or adverse action from colleagues or other third parties. Its protections extend to both the public and private sectors and cover employees, contractors, volunteers, temporary workers, former employees, apprentices, trainees, certain individuals on work experience, agency workers, members of An Garda Síochána and the defence forces and civil servants. The Protected Disclosures Act incentivises internal reporting and encourages the vast majority of disclosures to be made to the employer in the first instance. However, it provides for alternative avenues of disclosure where disclosure to the employer is inappropriate, ineffective or impossible.
It is prudent for each private body (and obligatory for public bodies) to have credible internal whistleblowing policies, as this will improve the chances of the body being alerted to wrongdoing quickly. This in turn will enable the body to take effective steps to deal with the matter before it becomes an external issue, thus protecting its control of the issue where an investment may be needed.
Is it common for leniency to be shown to organisations that self-report and/or cooperate with authorities? If so, what process must be followed?
Irish law does not provide for a process through which companies can self-report corruption in exchange for enhanced leniency. Self-reporting, where it occurs, may be taken into account at the sentencing stage as a mitigating factor.
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