There is legal protection in place arising from the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 in respect of employees who raise concerns about a wrongdoing at work to their employer.
Employees should not be in fear if they make a complaint to an employer regarding a health and safety issue at work, that they will be penalised either overtly or covertly at work by the employer as a result.
The Protected Disclosure Act 2014 provides a legal protection for employees who make a ‘relevant wrongdoing’ disclosure to the employer, about an occurrence at the workplace.
A ‘relevant wrongdoing’ could be an issue regarding a health and safety issue in the workplace, the commission of an offence, failure to comply with a legal obligation, misuse of public monies and other incidences that could be categorised as a wrongdoing as defined by the Act.
If an employer is found to have dismissed an employee for having made a Protected Disclosure, for example, they may be liable for compensation of up to five years of the employees remuneration to the complainant employee.
Whistleblowing is the term used when an employee raises a concern about a relevant wrongdoing.
Employers should have a Whistleblowing Policy in place and this should be communicated to employees.
The legislation covers public sector works, private sector workers, civil servants, Garda Siochana members, contractors, consultants, agency works, temporary workers and trainees.
A whistleblowing disclosure policy should state how a disclosure can be made and what is the Process.
Can a disclosure be made verbally ? for example or just in writing.
The policy should specify what safeguards are afforded to an employee who makes a disclosure.
A whistleblowing policy should state the importance to the employer of dealing with wrongdoing complaints, specify the procedures for investigating disclosures, explain that any acts constituting retaliation towards whistleblowers is a disciplinary matter for the person who conducted same.
In our opinion, these policies should not be cumbersome or legalistic, but rather simple to read, concise, with clear steps on the process and safeguards afforded to employees stated.
Companies should assign certain managers perhaps to deal with such matters, they should be trained with how to deal with them and they must understand the baseline law on the matter ie regarding protected disclosures.
Some employees even with all the legal protections available for protected disclosures, will still not feel comfortable making an internal complaint and whistleblowing policies could also indicate how complaints could be made to an external party for investigation.
Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.
Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.
8(b) “In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement”.