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Whistleblowers could get up to five years' pay if dismissed unfairly

Newly-published bill concerning employees who report wrongdoing outlines extra measures to protect them.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

WHISTLEBLOWERS IN THE country are to receive extra protection following the publication of the Government’s Protected Disclosures Bill 2013.

The legislation aims to provide for a single overarching framework within which workers can now raise concerns about potential wrongdoing that has come to their attention in the workplace.

The bill intends to promote the disclosure by employees of corporate wrongdoing and protect the workers who make such disclosures from reprisals by their employer.

Under the legislation, compensation of up to a maximum of five years’ pay can be awarded in the case of an unfair dismissal for having made a protected disclosure. Limitations relating to the length of service that usually apply in the case of unfair dismissals are to be set aside in the case of protected disclosure.

Whistleblowers who are subject to intimidation or harassment as a result of their actions are also to be given additional rights to take legal action against those responsible.

  • The bill is available in full to read here.

The bill was published today by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendam Howlin who said that the legislation represents a major step in the delivery of the Government’s programme of political reform. He said:

It provides for the first time a comprehensive whistleblower protection across all sectors of the economy addressing what has been identified – both nationally and internationally – as a significant gap in Ireland’s legal framework for combating corruption.

As well as being a committment made within the Programme for Government,  the Government claims is addresses the recommendations made in the Report of the Mahon Tribunal for the introduction of pan-sectoral whistleblower protection legislation.

A wide definition of wrongdoings is included in the Bill including, among others, criminal misconduct, corruption, breach of legal obligations, health and safety risks, environmental damage, and mismanagement of public services.

It is envisaged that the rules will provide safeguards to individuals who disclose their information to their employers, the authorities, TDs, or the media.

Read: Ireland failing to tackle corruption, claims report >
Read: How to prevent corruption in future: Mahon’s recommendations >
Read: US whistleblower Edward Snowden charged with espionage for leaking secret documents >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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