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Protected Disclosures or “Whistleblowing” and Penalisation

In the recent cases published by the Workplace Relations Commission, the employee or Complainant in this case was awarded €2,500 for penalisation following the making of a “protected disclosure” under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.

The Act aims to protect people who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace and is often called the “whistleblowing” act. Penalisation arises where an employee sufferes unfair treatment as a result of making the disclosure. This can include suspension, layoff, a reduction in working hours, dismissal or anything that could cause the employee to suffer a loss or detriment.

The Complainant was a Social Care worker and was employed by the Respondent from February 2018 until August 2018. The employee was becoming increasing concerned about staff shortages which was placing both the employees in his workplace and the individual in his care at an enormous risk.

The employee ultimately sent an email to two government agencies and copying his employer outlining his concerns and the reasons he felt he need to make the “protected disclosure”. After this the employee felt he was excluded from a meeting and that having previously been offered a job in Dublin, his employer was now changing this to Dundalk which did not suit him. The employee felt that this was being done because he had made a protected disclosure to the government agencies.

The Workplace Relations Commission found that

In being offered a position in Dundalk after being verbally offered a position in Dublin was a case of penalisation and I now order the Respondent to pay compensation to the Complainant of €2,500

Although the award was small in this case, it demonstrates that there are protections for whistleblowers at work.

A full copy of the decision can be found here https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2019/september/adj-00016817.html

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