The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 which came into effect on 1 January 2023, obliged all private sector employers with 50 or more employees to establish and maintain formal channels and procedures for employees to make protected disclosures, and all public bodies were required to overhaul their protected disclosures procedures to comply with the new Act.
Requirement for private sector employers
Regarding private sector employers the requirement to establish formal reporting channels for workers to report concerns about wrongdoing in the workplace, was to be phased in as follows:
- those with 250+ employees, from 1st January 2023
- those with between 50 and 249 employees, from 17th December 2023
What’s a “Worker”?
The scope of the Act has been widened and thus ‘workers’ also includes board members, shareholders, job applicants, and volunteers.
What does this mean for private-sector employers?
- Employers will be required to acknowledge, follow up, and give feedback in respect of all reports received through these channels.
- Failure to establish channels may result in criminal penalties.
Even though companies with less than 50 employees are exempt from the requirements for now, it would be good practice for such employers to implement similar mechanisms to deal with the reporting of any wrongdoings in the workplace.
A well-communicated whistleblowing/protected disclosures policy, and sound internal reporting procedures, will ensure employees feel comfortable in reporting any wrongdoings.