The Irish Protected Disclosures Act

Like all other members of the European union, Ireland is required to transpose the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive, which will require amendments to the current Protected Disclosures Act. The EU Directive obliges businesses with 50 employees or more to have a reporting channel for a broad spectrum of potential whistleblowers, and forbids reprisals against whistleblowers. The deadline for transposition was 17th December 2021, which Ireland did not meet.

What is the current status of the Protected Disclosures Act?

With its Protected Disclosures Act, Ireland is considered one of the few EU Member States with comprehensive whistleblower protection laws. Transposition of the EU Directive nonetheless requires amendments to the Act, which the Irish Government published in June 2021 in the Protected Disclosures (Amendments) Bill 2021. 

The Bill is expected to be enacted in Ireland in the first quarter of 2022.

The Irish Protected Disclosures Act means Ireland is one of the only EU countries to have legal whistleblowing protection in their national laws and have fully transposed the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive.

What to do while awaiting the amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act

Due to the EU Directive’s greater specificity regarding the procedures that are to be followed once a whistleblower report is made, it is likely that even organisations that have systems in place will need to review and update their current procedures. Other organisations that do not currently have reporting channels in place, but fall within the scope of the directive, may want to prepare for compliance now to avoid waiting until the last minute once the Act is in effect. 

Such preparations can be based on the minimum standards set by the EU Directive, which will apply in all member states and eventually to all organisations with more than 50 employees. The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2021 is very much aligned to these minimum standards. Organisations can therefore familiarise themselves with these requirements (see below), and identify solutions that can help fulfil them.

  1. A secure channel for receiving whistleblower reports must be put in place.
  2. Acknowledgment of the receipt of the report must be provided to the whistleblower within seven days.
  3. An impartial person or department must be appointed to follow up on the reports.
  4. Records must be kept of every report received, in compliance with confidentiality requirements.
  5. There must be diligent follow-up of the report by the designated person or department.
  6. Feedback about the report follow-up must be given to the whistleblower within three months.
  7. All processing of personal data must be done in accordance with the GDPR.

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