Employment Law And Benefits Update Government Publishes Bill To Protect Whistleblowers
On 3 July 2013, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, published the Protected Disclosure Bill 2013 (the "Bill") which he referred to as "Ireland's legal framework for combating corruption". This is the first time that a single overarching piece of legislation will apply to protect whistleblowers in all sectors of the economy.
The need for robust whistleblower legislation has never been more apparent than in recent times. Internationally, the Snowden saga has raised questions as to the extent to which workers are protected if they disclose information about actions of their employer where they believe wrongdoing has occurred. Nationally, we have experienced a financial crisis which has exposed significant shortcomings in the transparency and corporate governance of our financial institutions. In this ezine, we set out some key considerations for employers of the provisions of the Bill.
What does the Bill aim to do?
The Bill aims to protect workers from penalisation where they make a disclosure of information that comes to their attention in their workplace and which falls within the definition of a "protected disclosure".
Who will be protected by the Bill?
The Bill does not confine itself to protecting persons in the traditional employer/employee relationship, but instead, it uses the wider term "worker". The protection and remedies provided for in the Bill will therefore also apply to contractors, trainees, agency staff and home workers.