On the 15th of July 2014 the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 came into effect. The Act provides a legal framework under which workers who raise concerns about potential wrongdoings in their workplace (ie. Whistleblowers) are protected from dismissal or other sanction by their employer.
The Workplace Relations Commission has prepared a code of practice giving guidance and setting out best practice to help employers and workers understand the law in relation to the disclosure of information regarding wrongdoing in the workplace and how best to deal with the disclosure of this information. The Code of Practice sets out a model whistleblowing policy which assists employers in setting out the avenues and procedures for employees to follow when raising a concern about potential wrongdoings.
Many employers have not yet included a whistleblowing policy in their company handbook or contract of employment. Indeed, many employers or managers are not aware of how to investigate when whistleblowers make a protected disclosure. A whistleblowing policy should set out very clear guidelines so that both a potential whistleblower and the employer know precisely how to investigate and properly take action with regard to any wrong doing that might be uncovered.
While state bodies and agencies are required by law to have a specific whistleblowing policy in place, private employers need to review their existing policies or create a new policy to ensure they comply with the legislation. The policy should also be monitored and regularly reviewed to ensure compliance with best practice and any updates in relation to the legislation. It is also very important that employers give clear guidance as to when the use of a whistleblowing policy is appropriate. There is at least some anecdotal evidence to suggest that employees are utilising whistleblowing policies when use of other workplace policies such as a grievance policy might be more appropriate.
For more information please contact Emer O’Callaghan at firstname.lastname@example.org