The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 - an Act with teeth but does it bite?
In 2014 Ireland took the lead in whistleblower protection with the introduction of the Protected Disclosures Act. It actively promoted a cultural shift towards encouraging employee whistleblowers by offering them significant protections from penalisation. The Act has teeth: where an employee can connect the dots between their making of a protected disclosure and their dismissal, that employee can seek interim relief from the Circuit Court and potentially be awarded up to five years' remuneration as compensation. While there have been a number of applications before the Circuit Court for interim relief by employee whistleblowers, some of which have been successful, the High Court has only recently had cause to consider this powerful statutory remedy. In doing so, it has laid down the principles that will inform future applications for interim relief.
While there was a dearth of case law for the first few years after the Act came into force, fast forward to 2020 and several instructive decisions have been handed down, not only by the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court, but by the High Court and Circuit Court. Most recently, on 31 July 2020, a decision on interim relief awarded under the Act was delivered for the first time by the High Court in John Clarke v CGI Food Services Limited And CGI Holdings Limited. We take a look at this and other recent decisions and consider the practical implications of this case law for employers.
For more information in relation to this topic, please contact Fiona Sharkey, Solicitor, Triona Sugrue, Knowledge Lawyer, or any member of the A&L Goodbody Employment team.
Date published: 26 August 2020