Whistleblowing: The Protected Disclosures Act 2014

23/08/2017

Solicitors advising employers and employees alike should understand the impact of a ‘protected disclosure’, writes Anne O’Connell in the Gazette.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 was introduced to give protection to all workers who make a protected disclosure (also known as ‘whistleblowing’). It provides protection to all workers, including employees, contractors, agency workers, and trainees.

Major consequences

Anne O’Connell – a member of the Law Society’s Employment Law Committee and principal of AOC Solicitors – is quick to point out the unique nature and serious consequences of a dismissal where protected disclosures are concerned. For example, an employee who was dismissed wholly or mainly for making a protected disclosure does not require a year’s service to claim under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

Moreover, she writes, the dismissal will be deemed to be automatically unfair, and the maximum compensation award is increased from two years’ to five years’ remuneration. An employee making such a claim can also apply to the Circuit Court to continue their contract of employment until the claim is heard in full. This means that the employer may be required to pay the employee’s salary and benefits up until the conclusion of an unfair dismissal claim.

Understanding disclosures

With such heavy consequences, it is vital for solicitors advising on employment law to understand fully what a protected disclosure is, when an employee is or is not protected, and what an employer should and should not do. O’Connell delves into the practical impact of the act, and important cases to consider.

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