A report stage amendment was recently introduced to the Protected Disclosures Bill making provision for the granting of interim relief on foot of an application to the Circuit Court.
The amendment is designed to address the situation where there may be a lengthy delay from the time of a dismissal of a worker for making a protected disclosure and the subsequent unfair dismissal hearing. One of the criticisms which had been levied at the Bill, following its publication in July, was that the length of time before a case may be heard may act as a disincentive to making a disclosure. The lack of interim relief available to address this was one of the noticeable differences between our proposed legislation and that of other jurisdictions. Best practice in other jurisdictions includes provision for such relief.
The provision means that an employee here who claims they have been unfairly dismissed as a result of making a protected disclosure can apply to the Circuit Court for interim relief pending the hearing of their unfair dismissal claim. If the Court is of the view that there are substantial grounds for contending that the dismissal resulted wholly or partly from the employee making a protected disclosure, it has the power to ask the employer to reinstate or re-engage the employee pending the full hearing of the claim. If an employer fails to comply with this order, compensation may be paid to the employee.
A summary of the Bill's main provisions can be found here. We will provide a further update when the Bill is enacted.