The following information is for, ‘prescribed persons’ and others who may receive a report of wrongdoing from the Protected Disclosures Commissioner:
What is the Office of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner?
The role of the Office of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner is to receive reports from workers, Ministers and from prescribed persons (in certain circumstances) and to transmit those reports to the most appropriate prescribed person or other suitable person. Where an appropriate prescribed person or other suitable person cannot be identified, the report will be accepted by the Office of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner.
What is a prescribed person?
If you are unsure as to whether your organisation is a prescribed person please review S.I. No. 367/2020 - Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (Disclosure to Prescribed Persons) Order 2020.
A prescribed person is obliged to establish specific reporting channels and procedures for receiving reports under the Protected Disclosures Act.
When will a prescribed person receive a report from the Protected Disclosures Commissioner?
A prescribed person will receive a report from the Protected Disclosure Commissioner, if the Commissioner identifies it as the appropriate prescribed person.
What is an “other suitable person”?
There is no list of other suitable persons. Other suitable persons are identified by the Protected Disclosures Commissioner in accordance the Protected Disclosures Act.
When will an other suitable person receive a report from the Protected Disclosures Commissioner?
The Protected Disclosures Commission may send a report to an other suitable person, where no appropriate prescribed person can be identified or where the Commissioner considers that transmission to the appropriate prescribed person creates a risk of serious penalisation or that evidence of the relevant wrongdoing would be concealed or destroyed.
What if a prescribed person or other suitable person does not agree with the decision of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner to send a report?
A prescribed person or other suitable person may notify the Protected Disclosures Commissioner that it does not consider the report to be within its remit (statutory or otherwise). The notification will be considered by the Commissioner who will issue a decision within 14 days of the notification. The Commissioner’s decision is final.
Once the report is sent to the prescribed person or other suitable person, does the Protected Commissioner have any further role?
No. Once the report is transmitted the Commissioner’s role is complete and no further action will be taken.
Can a person send a report received from the Protected Disclosures Commissioner back to the Protected Disclosures Commissioner?
No, reports from the Protected Disclosures Commissioner cannot be returned to the Protected Disclosures Commissioner. A person can however, notify the Protected Disclosures Commissioner, that it does not consider the report received to be within its remit. See question above.
On receiving the report what is the next step?
A person who receives a report from the Protected Disclosures Commissioner, must acknowledge receipt to the reporting person not more than 7 days after receipt. Day 1 is the day the report is received.
The Reporting Person is the person who made the report.
The report does not have to be acknowledged if the reporting person explicitly requests the person who receives the report not to acknowledge it, or they reasonably believe that acknowledgment would jeopardise the protection of the reporters identity.
Will the reporting person be informed where their report was sent?
Yes the reporting person will be informed of the actions taken by the Commissioner as soon as is practicable.
After a report is acknowledged, what is the next step?
After the report is acknowledged a prescribed person or other suitable person must carry out an initial assessment of the report including seeking further information from the reporting person, if required, as to whether there is prima facie evidence that a relevant wrongdoing may have occurred.
Prescribed persons and other suitable persons have additional obligations of follow up which are set out in the Protected Disclosures Act and in particular the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022.
Do the prescribed person or other suitable person have to provide feedback to the reporting person?
Yes, the person receiving the report must provide the reporting person with feedback on their report within a reasonable time period which should not be more that 3 months from the date of the original acknowledgment and thereafter every three months on written request.
There are circumstances where the three month period may be extended to six months.
Does the other suitable person have any other obligations?
An other suitable person must designate at least one member of staff (the designated person) to be responsible for handling the report received and in particular for follow up and for maintaining communication with the reporting person for the purpose of providing feedback and, where necessary, requesting further information from that reporting person.
Is there an obligation on the prescribed person or other suitable person to protect identities of the parties involved?
Persons are obliged under section 16 and 16 A of the Protected Disclosures Act to protect the identity of the reporting person and the person concerned.
The “person concerned” is the person who is the subject of the report.