Today is World Whistleblower’s Day; and the Health Division would like to take this opportunity to express our solidarity with whistleblowers everywhere who stand up to injustice.
Whistleblowing is more formally known as making a ‘protected disclosure’. The law protects workers who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace they currently or previously worked in. They are also protected if they are dismissed or penalised for reporting possible wrongdoing.
People who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace are protected by the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (‘the 2014 Act’). It was updated by the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 (‘the 2022 Act). The 2022 Act also transposes the EU Whistleblowing Directive into Irish law.
A protected disclosure can be made if you are a worker and you disclose relevant information in a particular way. Information is relevant if it came to your attention in a work-related context and you reasonably believe that it tends to show wrongdoing.
Wrongdoing is widely defined and includes:
1) Criminal offences
2) Failure to comply with legal obligations
3) Breaches of certain European Union law
4) Endangering the health and safety of individuals
5) Damaging the environment
6) Miscarriage of justice
7) Misuse of public funds
8) Oppressive, discriminatory, grossly negligent or grossly mismanaged acts or omissions by a public body
9) Concealment or destruction of information about any of the above wrongdoing or any attempt to conceal or destroy such information
The following are generally not considered wrongdoings:
1) Workplace grievances which are exclusively personal
2) Disputes with your employer about your contract
3) Information that is disclosed in a legally privileged setting
4) If it is your job to detect, investigate or prosecute any wrongdoing and if the wrongdoing reported relates to a person other than the employer.
You should be aware that the above lists are not exhaustive and other examples may exist.
The Workplace Relations Commission has published information online regarding the protection of whistle-blowers.
*The above is for illustrative purposes only. SIPTU members are encouraged to speak to their shop steward, local Union Organiser or our Workers’ Rights Centre (1800 747 881) for more in depth advice if needed.