January will see the introduction of stronger protections for whistleblowers
The Protected Dislosures Act 2014 provides for a framework of statutory protections for whistleblowers in Ireland. The Act has been substantially overhauled by the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022, which was signed into law in July 2022.
The new legislation comes into operation on 1 January 2023.
From January all public sector employers are required to have formal internal channels and procedures for their workers to make protected disclosures.
Under the new legislation, this requirement will also apply to private sector employers with 250 or more employees from 1 January 2023 and to employers with 50 or more employees from 17 December 2023.
The new legislation requires that these internal and external channels provide for acknowledgement of all reports within 7 days; diligent follow-up of all reports received; and the provision of feedback to the reporting person.
We would hope to see further Government guidance in relation to private sector employees and prescribed persons together with a Model Whistleblowing Policy early in the New Year.
To note: in November 2022, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, published interim guidance for public sector employees and prescribed persons on the handling of reports made to them under the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022. The new guidance is intended to support public bodies in meeting their obligations in this regard.