Description:The Protected Disclosures Bill, part of the Public Service Reform Plan, will extend protection for employees who make disclosures of certain wrongdoings to private sector employees.
The Bill provides for a stepped disclosure regime for employees to make a ‘protected disclosure’. Employers are prohibited from penalising or threatening to penalise an employee for having made a protected disclosure. Employees who make such a disclosure will be protected from dismissal or penalisation for having made that disclosure and could be awarded up to five year’s remuneration if a dismissal is deemed unfair.
Implication(s):Public bodies will be required to establish and maintain procedures for dealing with protected disclosures from current or former employees. While there is no such requirement on private sector employers, the issue of whether an employee complied with any disclosure procedure in the company will be one of the factors for consideration in determining whether it is reasonable for the employee to have made an external disclosure.
A review of corporate governance procedures carried out now will help to minimise the risk of a protected disclosure due to a governance breech when the legislation is passed.
Current Position:The Bill is expected to be enacted by April 2014. Ibec has made numerous oral and written submissions to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.
We recognise the need to secure appropriate levels of protection for those who disclose illegal activities or other wrongdoing where those disclosures are made in good faith and in the public interest. We have called on the Minister to provide balance for employers, in particular, from being subjected to frivolous or vexatious disclosures and from unjustifiably large penalties.
We are working with the Labour Relations Commission in drafting a Code of Practice to provide clarity and guidance on protected disclosures.
Phone: +353 1 605 1654