The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 provides robust statutory protections for workers in the public and private sectors against retaliation for speaking up about wrongdoing in the workplace. The Act provides a “stepped disclosure regime” that allows workers to report wrongdoing internally to their employer or externally to a competent authority or, subject to certain conditions, to make a public disclosure. Workers in public bodies also have the option of making a disclosure to the relevant Government Minister. Protections against retaliation take the form of civil remedies available through the Workplace Relations Commission or the courts.
Most protected disclosures are made by workers to their employers and, in the majority of cases, are dealt with internally by the employer. In addition, it is not necessary for a worker to explicitly state they are making a protected disclosure in the course of reporting a wrongdoing. Accordingly, it is not possible to accurately determine how many reports of wrongdoing that would be covered by the Protected Disclosures Act have been made in total since the Act came into force.
The Deputy may, however, wish to note that research by Transparency International Ireland, published in the Speak Up Report 2017, found that one in ten workers will make a report of wrongdoing during the course of their careers. Furthermore, Section 22 of the Act requires public bodies to report each year on the number of protected disclosures made to them. While this information is not normally collated centrally, my Department compiled the data published by public bodies as part of the Statutory Review of the Act, published last year, and found that 370 protected disclosures were made to public bodies between 2014 and 2016. There is no equivalent obligation on the private sector to report on the numbers of disclosures made so a complete picture of the overall numbers of disclosures is not available.