Despite the threat of legislation, most companies lack whistleblower channels


Two thirds of organizations in Ireland still have not established channels to allow whistleblowers to make safe disclosures of wrongdoing in their workplace. That’s despite upcoming legislation that will require it.

A survey of human resource professionals by the law firm Mason Hayes & Curran found that 37 percent of respondents had experienced whistleblowing at their organizations in the past five years.

Although most do not have a dedicated channel for protected disclosures, 83 percent of respondents have a workplace policy regarding such disclosures.

While public sector employers are already required to have a whistleblower policy or process in place, this is not the case for private sector employers.

However, this will change with new laws being introduced.

The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill was published last February and is expected to come into force before the Dáil’s summer recess. It will transpose the EU Whistleblowing Directive into law. It will also expand the scope of legislation to provide protection for volunteers, board members and job applicants.

Private sector organizations with 50 or more employees must establish formal channels and procedures for their employees to make protected disclosures. This is monitored and enforced by the regulator, the Workplace Relations Commission.

Employers with fewer than 250 employees have an exemption until 2023 before they have to comply with the legislation.

Elizabeth Ryan, a partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, said the new legislation is “very prescriptive” and will require private sector employers to establish a disclosure channel for people to report wrongdoing.

“I think the disclosure channels through which workers can raise concerns internally will be the area of ​​greatest challenge for employers under the new legislation,” she said. “. If you have more than 250 employees, you will be required to adopt an internal disclosure channel policy very quickly, if not immediately, once the bill comes into force.”

She noted that whistleblower channels must be secure and ensure compliance with all GDPR requirements.

“Protecting confidentiality and reported information is of paramount importance,” he added. “The identity of the whistleblower — referred to as the reporter for the purposes of the bill — may not be disclosed without his or her permission.”

Employers and regulated persons who receive protected disclosures must acknowledge and investigate the allegations made and provide feedback to the reporter within three months.

“Employers not only need to follow up diligently, but you need to be able to show that you’ve followed up diligently,” noted Melanie Crowley, director of employment and benefits at Mason Hayes & Curran.

“This may not always require an investigation, but it’s one of the steps to consider,” she added.

A new Office of the Commissioner for Proprietary Disclosures will be established within the Office of the Ombudsman to support the new legislation. Despite the threat of legislation, most companies lack whistleblower channels

Fry Electronics Team

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