What constitutes an offence?
The essence of the Act is to afford protection to workers who want to, or feel the need to, report wrongdoing in the workplace.
Such protections include confidentiality, protection of the reporter’s identity and the protection against penalisation when a worker makes a protected disclosure.
An employer or person who breaches the Act is deemed to have committed a criminal offence and can be subjected to a fine of up to €250,000, or imprisonment for up to two years, or both.
Under the Offences and Penalties section of the Act, any of the following actions on the part of the employer or person is deemed an offence:
- Hinders or attempts to hinder a worker in making a report;
- penalises or threatens penalisation, or causes or permits any other person to penalise or threaten penalisation against a reporting person, a facilitator, any third person who is connected with a reporting person and who could suffer retaliation in a work-related context, including as a colleague or relative of the reporting person, any legal entity that a reporting person owns, works for or is otherwise connected with in a work-related context;
- bring vexatious proceedings against any person or legal entity referred to in b) above;
- breaches the duty of confidentiality regarding the identity of reporting persons;
- fails to comply with the requirement to establish, maintain and operate internal reporting channels and procedures.