The Protected Disclosures Act 2014
12th February 2016 | What's New
The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (the ‘Act’) became law on 15th July 2014.
The Act places a requirement on every public body (which includes schools) to establish and maintain procedures for the making of protected disclosures by workers who are, or were employed, by the public body and for dealing with such disclosures.
The purpose of the Act is to protect workers from being penalised for whistleblowing about wrongdoing or potential wrongdoing that has come to the worker’s attention in the workplace. Whistleblowing is the act of reporting wrongdoing.
The key provisions of the Act include;
- A prohibition on penalising a worker who makes a protected disclosure. ‘Worker’ is very broadly defined in the Act and includes employees (including temporary employees), contractors, trainees, agency staff, former employees and job seekers. The broad definition of worker will cover practically all those who are engaged to do work in schools.
- A broad range of ‘relevant wrongdoings’ which can be reported including criminal offences, breaches of legal obligations(other than one arising under the worker’s contract of employment or other contract whereby the worker undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services), where the health and safety of any individual has been or is likely to be endangered, miscarriage of justice, environmental damage, unlawful or improper use of public funds, an act or omission by or on behalf of a public body which is oppressive, discriminatory or grossly negligent or constitutes gross mismanagement or any attempt to conceal information in relation to any of the above
- A stepped disclosure process which encourages workers to disclose to their employers in the first instance. This stepped process is designed to encourage a worker to make a disclosure to their employer or ‘responsible person’ in the first instance, to specified third parties in certain other circumstances and to make the disclosure of information in the public domain an option of last resort. Workers must comply with the disclosure process in order for the disclosure to be classified as a ‘protected disclosure’ and for the worker to qualify for protections under the ‘Act’
Statutory Instrument No. 464 of 2015 Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice On Protected Disclosures Act 2014)(Declaration)Order 2015 provides further guidance on the ‘Act’ and a ‘Model Whistleblowing Policy’ (see Appendix).
Statutory Instrument No. 339 of 2014 – Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (Section 7 (2)) Order 2014 lists the ‘Prescribed Persons’ to whom a protected disclosure may be made
Statutory Instrument No. 448 of 2015- Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (Disclosure to Prescribed Persons) Order 2015 amends the Schedule to the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (Section 7(2) Order 2014 (S.I. No. 339 of 2014)