Ireland's minister for public expenditure and reform, Brendan Howlin, recently published the Protected Disclosures Bill, 2013, described as an important measure in the battle against corruption. Howlin said that lawmakers want to provide genuine employment and other protections to workers who were penalized or suffered harm for disclosing wrongdoing.
Irish whistleblowing wrongdoing
The new Irish whistleblower bill protects employees who reveal and report relevant wrongdoing in the workplace. The bill proceeds to identify the following as examples of wrongdoing:
That an offense was, is or is going to be committed
That a person has already failed, is currently failing or is going to fail to fulfill a legal obligation that is not part of a contract for employment
That there was, is or is going to be a miscarriage of justice
That something is endangering the safety of another
That there has been or is going to be an improper use of funds
That governmental act or omission is discriminatory or grossly negligent
That information revealing any of the above is being or likely to be destroyed
To understand how the new bill protects whistleblowers who report these types of wrongdoings, we need to examine the bill’s important provisions.
Elements of the whistleblower bill
The Protected Disclosure Bill, 2013 provides that employees may receive five years' remuneration if it is determined that they were dismissed because of whistleblowing. The bill also says those employees who have less than one year of employment may file a complaint under the whistleblower bill as limitations relating to length of service that apply in unfair dismissal cases are set aside. The bill requires the whistleblower to reasonably believe that there was wrongdoing and attempts to protect the privacy of the whistleblower by enumerating discreet disclosure methods for those reporting misconduct.