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Firms with more than 50 workers must enable whistleblowers to come forward within weeks

Minister Paschal Donohoe hopes guidance on protected disclosures system for public sector will help private companies

Companies with more than 50 workers will have to establish formal channels for whistleblowers to come forward within the next four weeks as new legal requirement kicks in.

New guidance on the Protected Disclosures Act has been published for State organisations and minister for public expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said he hopes the private sector will find it useful too.

The guidance explains the protected disclosures law, outlines support and advice on offer to whistleblowers, and details how disclosures can be made to so-called prescribed persons – 108 people in organisations such as the Central Bank or the Health and Safety Authority.

Private sector companies with 50 or more employees must establish internal channels for reporting wrongdoing by December 17th. This is down from a threshold of 250 employees or more.

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Mr Donohoe said “Ireland has one of the strongest whistleblower protection laws in the world but what really matters is how the legislation operates in practice.

“This statutory guidance is intended to help leaders and managers in the public sector understand their obligations under the legislation and how to go about implementing an effective process for handling protected disclosures in their organisations.”

He also said: “While the guidance is targeted at the public sector, much of the content is also applicable to the private sector. It is my hope that private sector organisations will also find this guidance useful in respect of those provisions of the Act that apply to them”.

Mr Donohoe has also signed an Order updating the list of prescribed persons that workers can contact to make external reports of wrongdoing in their sector.

Prescribed persons are generally the heads of organisations with regulatory powers over a particular sector.

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