Are there acceptable grounds for an appeal to be lodged by a discloser if they are unhappy with the outcome of an assessment or investigation into a protected disclosure?
The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 does not provide information relating to appeals. However, guidance in relation to appeals/reviews can be found in section 20 of the DPER Guidance under Section 21(1) of the Protected Disclosures Act as follows:
’20 Review 20.1 The Procedures should allow for a system of review in respect of the following: i. Any decision made to disclose the identity of the discloser (except in exceptional cases); ii. The outcome of any assessment/investigation undertaken in respect of the protected disclosure; and iii. The outcome of any assessment / investigation in respect of any complaint of penalisation. 20.2 Any review should be undertaken by a person who has not been involved in the initial assessment, investigation or decision. Where a decision is taken to disclose the identity of the discloser, where at all possible, the discloser should be offered a review before his / her identity is disclosed. 20.3 The review process included in the Procedures should ensure that there is no entitlement to two reviews in respect of the same issue.’
Public Service bodies can avail of the Office of Government Procurement Framework for the Provision of Services related to the Receipt and Investigation of Protected Disclosures (insert reference link).
It is worth bearing in mind that a discloser who is dissatisfied with the response to their internal disclosure is more likely to report externally e.g., to a Prescribed Person or to media etc. so having an appeal/review procedure may reduce the likelihood of the discloser going elsewhere. TI Ireland also provides a ‘Case Process Review’ service to Speak Up Helpline clients. Where a worker in an IAW member organisation is unhappy with the way in which their protected disclosure has been dealt with by their employer and/or they believe they have suffered a detriment arising from making a protected disclosure, they can ask TI Ireland to review their case with a view to helping improve their employer’s protected disclosure and related systems. The Case Process Review service is accessed via the Speak Up Helpline.