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Ireland: Minister publishes interim guidance for public bodies and prescribed persons on protected disclosures

The Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform published, on 9 November 2022, an interim guidance for public bodies and prescribed persons on the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 ('the Act'). In particular, the guidance assists public sector employers and prescribed persons in implementing the new requirements of the Act in relation to the establishment and operation of internal and external reporting channels. In essence, the guidance notes that it is essential to put the aforementioned channels in place in advance of the commencement date of the Act, on 1 January 2023.

In addition, the guidance clarifies that it will be issued as formal statutory guidance by the Minister in accordance with Section 21 of the Act. Further to this, the guidance invites for comments and suggestions on the same, to be sent via email to [email protected], from public sector employers and prescribed persons with a view to further revision before it is formally issued.

Moreover, the guidance provides that, if the following key principles are respected, there should be no need for reporting persons to access the protections and redress contained in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, as amended:

  • all reports of wrongdoing in the workplace should, as a matter of routine, be the subject of an initial assessment and any appropriate follow-up action;
  • the focus of the process should primarily be on the wrongdoing reported, and whether it is a relevant wrongdoing, and not on the reporting person;
  • the identity of the reporting person and any person concerned should be adequately protected; and
  • provided that the reporting person discloses information relating to a relevant wrongdoing, in an appropriate manner, and based on a reasonable belief, no question of penalisation should arise.

You can read the press release here and download the guidance here.