The Protected Disclosures Commissioner is an independent statutory office, established to send reports of work-related wrongdoing to the most appropriate body for their initial assessment and follow-up. This document sets out our Customer Service commitments and the service standards you can expect from us.

We aim to provide you with a good service and to treat you with courtesy and respect.  In return, we expect that you will also teat our staff with courtesy and respect.  We will respect your right to privacy and we will treat the information you provide us with carefully and we will only share for the purposes of handling your enquiry or report of wrongdoing.  In return, we expect that you respect the privacy of our staff.

Contact by telephone

If you contact us by telephone, we will aim to:

  • Answer your call promptly
  • Give you our name when we answer your call
  • Be courteous and helpful to you
  • Answer your query in full
  • If we cannot do so immediately, we will take your details and call you back as soon as possible
  • Respond to all voicemail messages promptly

Written correspondence (relating to a report of wrongdoing)

If you send us a letter, email or online enquiry relating to a report of wrongdoing we will:

  • Acknowledge your correspondence within 7 days
  • Transmit your report to the appropriate prescribed person within 14 days
  • If we cannot transmit your report within 14 days, we will write to you and explain why
  • Write to you in clear language and avoid using technical or legal terms where possible

Further information on how we treat a report of wrongdoing is available on our website

(What happens if I contact the Commissioner)

Written correspondence (not relating to a report of wrongdoing)

If you send us a letter, email or online enquiry which does not concern a report of wrongdoing we will:

  • Acknowledge your correspondence within five working days
  • Ensure you receive a full reply to your written correspondence within 20 working days
  • If we cannot provide a full reply within 20 working days, we will write to you and explain why.  We will let you know when you can expect a full reply
  • Give a contact name and contact details as well as a reference number (where appropriate)
  • Write to you in simple and clear language and avoid using technical terms

Visitors to the Office

We ask anyone who wants to visit us in person to do so by appointment. If you visit us, we will:

  • Meet you at the agreed time if you have an appointment
  • Treat you with courtesy, respect your privacy and be fair in our dealings with you
  • Provide appropriate facilities for meetings
  • Keep our public offices clean and tidy and ensure that they meet health and safety standards

If you visit us without an appointment, we will try our best to accommodate you. It may not always be possible, however, to do so. If we cannot accommodate you, we will agree with you a future date and time when we will meet with you.

Service through Irish

We will assist you if you wish to carry out your business with us through Irish

  • Correspondence received in Irish will be answered in Irish
  • We will publish key documents including our Annual Reports in Irish and English
  • We will ensure that information leaflets aimed at the public are available in both Irish and English
  • An Irish version of our website will mirror as far as practicable the English version
  • We will meet our other commitments under the Official Languages Act as published on our website.

Equality / Diversity / Disability

  • We commit to dealing with you without discrimination or prejudice
  • We will aim to have our services and facilities easily available and accessible to you
  • We will respect your right to privacy
  • We have appointed an Access Officer (as required under the Disability Act) to assist persons with a disability in accessing our services. Our Access Officer can be contacted by email at accessofficer@ombudsman.ie or by telephone at 01 639 5625.
  • We will consider equality and human rights in all our work.
  • In developing this Customer Service Charter, the Office has had regard to the considerations regarding eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights identified in section 42(1)(a)-(c) of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014

Complaints about customer service

If something goes wrong and you are not satisfied with our customer service, please tell us. 

This refers to the issues of customer care and service in how you were dealt with by our staff. 

  • In the first instance, please raise the matter with the person you are dealing with in the Office, so that we can respond and try to deal with the matter as early as possible
  • If you are not happy with the response and wish to make a formal complaint about the standard of services you received from this Office, you can write to the Director General Ms Elaine Cassidy by email to: privatesec@ombudsman.ie 
  • We aim to acknowledge such complaints in five working days and try to provide a full reply in 20 workings days

Please note that, disagreement over the outcome of a report of wrongdoing will not of itself fall within the scope of this type of complaint. Information regarding how the Commission treats reports of wronging is set out in our Summary Procedures document.

Help us to help you

You can help us as we try to give you a high quality service please:

  • State how you would like to be contacted or where relevant, confirmation that you do not want to be contacted
  • Provide the details of the relevant wrongdoing; and whether you are of the opinion that you are at risk of serious penalisation or that there is a risk that evidence of the relevant wrongdoing will be concealed or destroyed and if so, by whom.
  • Do not include supporting documentation when submitting a report of wrongdoing to the Commissioner. If further information is needed by the Commissioner in order to determine the most suitable authority to follow up the report, the Commissioner will request that information from you.
  • Treat our staff and our service with respect.  We have a Reasonable Conduct Policy. This sets out how we expect customers to behave when contacting our office and the type of behaviour which we regard as unacceptable.

Consultation and feedback

We are always interested to hear suggestions on how we can improve our service. If you would like to comment or make a suggestion, please e-mail us at info@opdc.ie

Where to get more information

You can find details of how to make a report of wrongdoing on our website. Our summary procedures for dealing with such reports are also available on our website.

Where to find us:

Our full contact details are available on the “Contact us” page of our website.

Email: info@opdc.ie

 

How should I behave when making a complaint?

We understand that making a complaint/disclosure/appeal or request can be stressful and that, from time to time, this stress may show in how a person interacts with this Office. Our staff members know that managing these interactions is part of their job.

However, we expect people to act reasonably when interacting with our Office. Our staff are not expected to tolerate behaviour that is abusive, offensive, threatening or, due to the frequency of contact, takes up too much time and resources that could be spent assisting other customers.

What kind of behaviour is unacceptable?

The following types of behaviour are not acceptable:

  • Unreasonable persistence

If a file has been closed by this Office, it is unreasonable persistence to refuse to accept the decision or insist that another member of staff looks again at the case.

  • Unreasonable demands

An unreasonable demand can include a demand for action regarding a matter that is outside of the Office’s remit, looking for a solution that is not realistic or is disproportionate, demanding that a specific person must/must not deal with your case, or demanding that your case be dealt with within a specific timeframe or ahead of other customers.

  • Unreasonable lack of co-operation

This may be demonstrated by a failure to clearly define the matter you are raising with the Office, presenting large volumes of documentation in a disorganised way, changing the substance of the issue while the Office’s process is ongoing, withholding information and not being honest about facts. It also includes non-cooperation by you with the Office, which may hinder, obstruct or delay the process.

  • Unreasonable arguments

Unreasonable arguments should not be made to this Office. Examples include exaggerating issues, presenting irrelevant arguments, insisting your version of events is accepted as fact where there is no objective evidence to support it, or refusing to consider other versions of events.

  • Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour includes multiple phone calls, emails or letters about the same matter, threats of violence, abuse of the Office staff, rude or aggressive conduct, sending profane imaging and attempting to provoke staff into engaging in unnecessary and time-wasting argument. Inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations are also considered to be abusive behaviour.

Please note if emails are received with profanities and/or unacceptable images, that such emails will not be acknowledged and your correspondence will be delayed, because they are automatically blocked by our firewall. If these emails persist the email address will be blocked.

Written correspondence

We will not accept correspondence that is abusive or threatening to staff. We will not respond to any correspondence containing such language.

Telephone calls

We will tell the person if we think their language during telephone calls is rude and offensive and ask them to stop using such language. Staff have the right to terminate the telephone call if the behaviour continues.

What happens if I behave in this way?

If we consider your behaviour to be unreasonable, we will tell you why and ask you to change it.

Unreasonable conduct may include one or two isolated incidents or may be the accumulation of incidents or behaviour over a period of time. If the unacceptable conduct continues or constitutes a serious risk (such as threatening a member of staff with violence), we will take action to restrict the complaint’s contact with our offices and staff.

This decision will only normally be taken after a more senior staff member has reviewed the situation. Restrictions will be appropriate and in line with the nature of the behaviour. The options we are most likely to consider are:

  • asking you to contact us by letter only
  • asking you to only make contact with a named staff member
  • asking you to call by telephone only on certain days and times
  • limiting your access to the office
  • additional correspondence relating to the same matter is read and then filed but no response is provided
  • as a final option, terminating all contact with you if this behaviour persists (the Director General will make this decision)

In all cases, we will write to tell you why we believe your behaviour is not reasonable and what action we propose to take. If the behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of the staff of the Office or others, we will consider other options. These could include, reporting the matter to An Garda Síochána or instigating legal action. In such cases, we may not give you warning of that action.

Regardless of your behaviour, our staff will act respectfully towards you and take an impartial attitude to the issues you have raised with this Office.

In developing this Reasonable Conduct Policy, the Office has had regard to the considerations regarding eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights identified in section 42(1)(a)-(c) of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.