The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, has today published the Draft Heads of the Protected Disclosure in the Public Interest Bill 2012.
According to the press release issued by the Department today, the legislative proposals:
• Have as their main objective ensuring the protection of workers in all sectors of the economy (i.e. public and private) against reprisals in circumstances that they make a disclosure of information relating to wrongdoing which comes to their attention in the workplace;
• Provide for a “stepped” disclosure regime in which a number of distinct disclosure channels are available – internal, “regulatory” and external – and through which the worker can, subject to different evidential thresholds, make a protected disclosure;
• Seek to safeguard a worker who has made a protected disclosure from being subject to occupational detriment also providing immunity against civil liability and criminal liability in certain circumstances;
• Make available certain significant remedies providing redress for workers who suffer detriment as a consequence of having made a protected disclosure; and
• Confer “protected disclosure” status on disclosures made under existing sectoral whistleblowing legislation to ensure, as much as possible, a uniform standard of protection.
The proposed legislation also highlights the responsibility of employers, to put effective internal mechanisms in place to investigate whistleblowing complaints and to develop an organisational culture that supports whistleblowing as a key element of corporate risk management overall, in order to identify potential wrongdoing and take appropriate corrective action at the earliest possible stage.
The publication of this Bill is, according to the Minister a “huge advancement from the previous piecemeal approach where the patchwork of protections resulted in a fragmented and confusing standards of protection”.
He added: “A key element of the proposed legislation is that it treats all parties equally and fairly within an integrated legal framework that is open and transparent”.
Public Affairs Ireland is hosting a seminar on Thursday March 1 on Whistleblowers in the Public Sector. The seminar will hear contributions from a legal professional with expertise in the area of compliance, the Director of Enterprise Risk Services in Deloitte and an expert in strategic communications. The CEO of the organisation operating Ireland’s first whistleblowers’ helpline will also address the seminar. Collectively, the speakers will offer a wide range of legal and business-related expertise on the area of whistleblowers, the law, and the impact on organisations.
For more information click here.