Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 – Key Updates and Role of Designated Persons

Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 – Key Updates and Role of Designated Persons

Why this event and why now?

The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 (the 2022 Act) introduced significant changes to the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (the 2014 Act).  It was signed into law on the 21st of July 2022 and commences from the 1st January 2023.  Some of the key amendments to the 2014 Act include:

New Developments:

  • An obligation on all public sector organisations and all private sector employers with 50* or more employees to establish and maintain internal reporting channels and procedures for employees to make protected disclosures.
  • Those channels and procedures will be subject to WRC inspections.
  • A broadening of the definition of ‘worker’ – i.e. the person who can make a protected disclosure to include almost everyone associated with an employer, including volunteers, shareholders, non-executive members, and job applicants.
  • A designated person/department in every organisation must follow strict timelines for acknowledging receipt of the disclosure and for providing feedback.
  • Criminal penalties for penalisation in certain cases, as well as for breaching the duty of confidentiality as regards the identity of a reporting person, bringing vexatious proceedings against the=, and failing to establish procedures.
  • Establishment of a new Office of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner - the Commissioner will direct protected disclosures received by it to the most appropriate person and will also take on responsibility for transmitting all protected disclosures sent to Ministers of the Government to the most appropriate person for assessment and follow up.
  • A broadening of the definition of a relevant wrongdoing,
  • Reversal of the burden of proof from the reporting person to the employer in alleged penalisation and detriment claims
  • Widening of the scope for employees to seek interim relief for forms of penalisation other than dismissal.

Make no mistake – this is one of the most important and powerful pieces of employment legislation in the history of the State.

* NOTE: The requirement to have internal procedures will initially apply from 1st January 2023 to all public sector organisations and to all private sector organisations with 250 or more employees. Private sector organisations with 50 or more will need to comply from 17th December 2023, although the 2022 Act allows the Minister to reduce the threshold below 50 for certain classes of employer. In addition, there is no threshold for entities in the area of financial services, products and markets and prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, transport safety, and protection of the environment.

Why is this event important for YOU?

All employers need to be briefed fully on the amendments to avoid expensive claims and to deal with potential PR disasters.

The amendments allow the WRC or Labour Court to award compensation of up to €15,000 for job applicants who acquire information of wrongdoing during the recruitment process. That is, of course, in addition to existing penalties of up to 5x the annual salary for penalising or dismissing employees for having made a protected disclosure.

The 2014 Act proposes that interim relief can be obtained before the Circuit Court in all cases where a worker alleges penalisation, not just in circumstances where the worker has been dismissed e.g. to stop transfers, warnings and other sanctions below dismissal.

Under the 2014 Act, the burden of proof in cases of penalisation rested on the employee. The new Act will reverse this burden of proof, meaning that penalisation would be presumed to have occurred because of or in retaliation for having made a protected disclosure, unless the employer could prove the act or omission was on duly justified grounds.

Who should attend this event?

This event is a must-attend for:

• Anyone with responsibility for auditing or compliance issues and particularly for anyone who may be a designated person responsible for handling whistleblowing complaints in the workplace.

HR professionals in all private and public sector organisations who may need to advise on or investigate employee complaints or allegations; which could potentially amount to disclosures.

• Anyone else with responsibility for employment policies and procedures, risk assessment and governance; and

• Any solicitors, barristers, in-house lawyers or other representatives, who must advise on the law.

Date & Duration:

Part 1:   Wednesday 19th April 2023

Part 2:   Thursday 20th April 2023

Standard Rate: €445
Small Company/Charity Rate: €395

* Small Company/Charity Rates apply to organisations with less than 50 employees


Day 1


Welcome and Introduction

Legal Island


Key Updates to Protections from the 2014 Act

Dr Lauren Kierans, BL focusses in this first session on the scope of the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 and outlines who and what is protected.  For example:

  • The definition of “worker” - Who is protected and who is not protected by the amended Act?
  • Changes made to the definition of a “protected disclosure” - What additional wrongdoings are included in the definition?
  • How are interpersonal grievances to be dealt with?
  • The definition of “penalisation” – What retaliation is now outlawed and how has this changed?  When might ‘interim relief’ be awarded.
  • What is the difference between public and private sector and when must an employer have procedures in place?
  • New “support measures” for whistleblowers.


Q&A Session 1  


Refreshment Break


Internal Report Channels and the Role of the Designated Person

Dr Lauren Kierans BL continues to discuss the changes to the 2014 Act by focusing on reporting requirements and what the updates mean for the handling of protected disclosures within organisations.  For example,

  • Internal reporting channels -  private sector: thresholds and requirements
  • Internal reporting channels  - public sector: requirements
  • Role of designated persons/department in relation to:
    • Acknowledge of receipt of potential disclosures
    • Provision of feedback to reporting persons
    • Diligent follow up – assessment, investigation
    • Evidential requirements for establishing whether a relevant wrongdoing may have occurred
    • ‘Appropriate action’ to address the relevant wrongdoing
  • The new duty of confidentiality in respect of reports and the limited exceptions.
  • How are anonymous disclosures to be dealt with?  Is there an obligation to investigate and when might it be good practice to do so?
  • New record keeping obligations.  
  • Employer responsibilities in relation to communication of procedures for the making of protected disclosures


Q&A Session 2   


Comfort Break


External reporting channels and procedures

Dr Lauren Kierans BL concludes the day with an overview of changes to external reporting channels and procedures including:

  • An overview of the other key changes to reporting options including:
    • External reporting channels;
    • Reports to the Minister;
    • Reporting outside of the channels outlined in the Act.
    • The new Role of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner.
    • The new obligation to protect the identity of “persons concerned”.
    • Changes to how legal claims are dealt with.
    • Overview of criminal offences and penalties.


Final Q&A


Close of Day 1


Day 2


Welcome to Day 2

Legal Island


An Overview of Investigative Procedures

Dr Lauren Kierans BL, explained the role of the designated person in internal reporting requirements of protected disclosures.  Michelle Halloran, HR Consultant and experienced investigator outlines the key steps in any employment-related investigation and the key skills required that will be helpful to designated persons in conducting initial assessments of reports under Protected Disclosures procedures. 


Q&A and short comfort break


Questioning and Investigative Techniques

The designated person will be required to carry out an initial assessment into a disclosure which may require the seeking of further information from the reporting person.  In this session Michelle provides some guidance on how to gather further information including the types of questions to use to elicit required evidence.


Refreshment Break


Evaluating the Evidence

The designated person is required to establish if there is prima facie evidence that a relevant wrongdoing has occurred.  This may be easier said than done and, in this session, Michelle Halloran outlines how to assess and evaluate the evidence gained from the initial assessment of a protected disclosure report including whether this is indeed a protected disclosure or some other grievance.


Maintaining Confidentiality, Protecting Reporting Persons and Next Steps

Internal procedures for receiving protected disclosures must be designed and operated to ensure that confidentiality is maintained, and the identity of the reporting person is not disclosed.  In this final session Michelle Halloran provides some top tips for ensuring confidentiality throughout the entire process.  She will also provide pointers on how to ensure that reporting persons are protected against penalisation as a result of having made a disclosure.

Michelle concludes the session with a brief overview of consideration of next steps.


Final Q&A and Close of Event


"Very informative session which had the right balance of information and practical exercise. It certainly broadened my understanding and knowledge of the issue and confirmed my belief that it is a very complex area." Maura Behan, HR Executive, Irish League of Credit Unions

"Excellent in-depth details provided about the proposed changes." Brian Fitzsimons, Senior Internal Auditor, CIE (Córas Iompair Éireann)


  • Lauren Kierans
    Lauren Kierans Barrister

    Dr Lauren Kierans BL is a practising barrister and Lecturer in Law at Maynooth University where she lectures on whistleblowing law at undergraduate level, as well as a Professional Certificate.

    She was awarded her PhD on the Irish Protected Disclosures Act 2014 in June 2019.  She has published articles and book chapters on protected disclosures and co-authored the Annotated Statute on the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. She has also produced two country reports on protected disclosures and spoken on this topic at various conferences, CPD events, round-table panel discussions, and legislative briefings at both national and international level. Lauren was awarded the governmental project for the drafting of the protected disclosures procedures guidance for public bodies on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. 

  • Michelle Halloran
    Michelle Halloran Trainer
    Halloran HR Resolutions Ltd

    Michelle Halloran is an experienced Human Resource Management professional and an accredited workplace mediator providing training and consultancy services to organisations nationwide, in the Public and Private sector. She has spent a long career originally in executive and general management roles, then specialising in Human Resources management in Ireland, the UK and Europe, across various sectors including investment banking, information technology, manufacturing and services plus some time in the public sector, before starting her own HR consultancy business 17 years ago. Her key areas of expertise are in workplace investigations, disciplinary and performance management and employee relations, and the practical application of employment law in a HR context.

    Michelle originally graduated in Computer Science from Trinity College, Dublin and spent the early part of her career developing software for the investment banking sector from which she was promoted into a series of senior executive and management positions in the financial services sector.

    She then worked in HR Management for high profile multi-nationals such as Abbott Laboratories, American Power Conversion and Thermo King, as well as assisting start-up companies to develop the “human” component of their businesses.

    Michelle holds a Masters degree in management, and she is a Chartered Member of the CIPD, whose objective is to promote best practice in management training and development here and in the UK. Michelle was also awarded with top marks the NUIG Foundation Diploma in Training and Education, which is the nationally recognised qualification for business training providers.

Event details


2 Half Days: Wed 19 & Thurs 20 April 2023


19 April 2023


Online - Hopin


Standard Rate: €445
Small Company/Charity Rate: €395