The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (the “Act”) came into effect on 15 July 2014. The Act envisages a robust cross-sectoral statutory framework for protecting whistleblowers. Under this framework, workers can raise concerns regarding potential wrongdoing in their workplace in the knowledge that they can avail of significant employment and other protections if they are penalised/suffer detriment for doing so.
The Act covers all workers. It provides for a stepped disclosure regime which encourages disclosures to be made internally to the employer in the first instance. However, other options are available where internal disclosure is inappropriate or impossible.
Employees who make these disclosures are protected from dismissal or any penalisation short of dismissal. Penalisation has a very broad definition under the Act and even includes the “threat of” penalisation. Employees who have been unfairly dismissed for having made protected disclosures can also claim interim relief by application to the Circuit Court.