Ireland Update: Winds of Change for Whistleblowing

Upcoming Whistleblowing Directive
Ireland already has substantial protection for whistleblowers under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 ("Act"). Even so, the scope and applicability of employers' obligations towards whistleblowers will broaden when Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law ("Whistleblowing Directive") is implemented.

Ireland and its fellow EU members must implement the Whistleblowing Directive by 17 December 2021. From then, private employers of 50 or more employees will be required to establish reporting channels (which may be internal or provided by an external third party) within their organisation for workers who wish to report breaches of EU law.

Employers who are subject to EU Law relating to financial services, products, markets, prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, transport safety and the protection of the environment will be required to establish reporting channels irrespective of the number of employees employed.

The definition of relevant wrongdoings will be broadened to include breaches of financial services regulations, laws relating to products, markets, prevention of money-laundering and terrorist financing, corporate tax laws, product and transport safety, animal health, protection and welfare, environmental protection, public procurement, data protection, consumer protection, radiation, nuclear safety and public health and breaches affecting the financial interests of the European Union and the single market.

The Whistleblowing Directive will also impose strict timeframes within which employers must comply with their obligations. Receipt of a protected disclosure must be acknowledged within seven days. The disclosure itself must be "diligently followed up" within three months.

Feedback must be provided within three months, though it will not be necessary to communicate the outcome of an investigation within three months.

 

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