This case highlights the need for an employee to show that they have in fact made a “protected disclosure” as defined under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.
It also highlights the difference between a workplace concern or grievance and a protected disclosure. In this case it was held that the employee had simply expressed a concern and sought assurances it would be dealt with and this did not satisfy the definition of a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosure Act 2014.
In this case a financial Controller was dismissed after a few weeks and he alleged it was because he raised concerns in respect of access to the company pension scheme.
The Workplace Relations Commission noted that the Complainant did not make a ‘protected disclosure’ until after he had been dismissed and that there was no factual basis or evidence of the alleged wrongdoing. It was also held that the complainant did not invoke the respondent’s whistleblowing policy and was in fact dismissed due to the issues he was having with other staff members.
Both employers and employees should be aware of the difference between a grievance and a protected disclosure. This is addressed by SI 464/2015 Code of Practice on Protected Disclosures Act 2014 at section 30 and 31 as follows;
“A grievance is a matter specific to the worker i.e. that the worker’s employment position around his/her duties, terms and conditions of employment, working procedures or working conditions.
A grievance should be processed under the organisation’s Grievance Procedure. A protected disclosure is where a worker has information about a relevant wrongdoing.
It is important that a worker understands the distinction between a protected disclosure and a grievance. The organisation’s Whistleblowing Policy should make this clear”
A link to the above decision can be found here https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2019/september/%20adj-00020593.html