New legislation has been introduced to offer legal protection to those who wish to report concerns over wrongdoing in the public and private sector.
The Protected Disclosures Act will provide protection to all employees, including contractors, trainees and agency workers.
The protection will include various safeguards for whistle-blowers and purports to ensure that those who report wrongdoing will suffer no negative consequences.
If a whistle-blower feels that they have been treated negatively by their employer as a consequence of their disclosure then they may refer their case to the Labour Court.
The Act considers a ‘protected disclosure’ to be one made by a worker of a wrongdoing by their employer. Examples of such wrongdoing would include the commission of an offence, non-compliance with a legal obligation, threats to health and safety and damage to the environment.
The types of disclosure to which the Act pertains include disclosures made internally to an employer or other reasonable person, disclosure made to regulatory bodies and also (in certain circumstances) to the media.
Employers are advised to ensure they have an effective policy in place so that they comply with these new changes. Such a policy would include an internal referral procedure for employees who may have concerns over potential wrongdoing by the company.