Protections For Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998.

Protection of employees from penalisation for having reported child abuse.

4.—(1) An employer shall not penalise an employee for having formed an opinion of the kind referred to in section 3 of this Act and communicated it, whether in writing or otherwise, to an appropriate person if the employee has acted reasonably and in good faith in forming that opinion and communicating it to the appropriate person.

(2) In proceedings under this section before a rights commissioner or the Employment Appeals Tribunal in relation to a complaint that subsection (1) of this section has been contravened, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that the employee concerned acted reasonably and in good faith in forming the opinion and making the communication concerned.

(3) If a penalisation of an employee, in contravention of subsection (1) of this section, constitutes a dismissal of the employee within the meaning of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 1993, relief may not be granted to the employee in respect of that penalisation both under this section and under those Acts.

(4) An employee may present a complaint to a rights commissioner that his or her employer has contravened subsection (1) of this section in relation to him or her and, if he or she does so, the commissioner shall give the parties an opportunity to be heard by the commissioner and to present to the commissioner any evidence relevant to the complaint, shall give a decision in writing in relation to it and shall communicate the decision to the parties.

(5) A decision of a rights commissioner under subsection (4) of this section shall do one or more of the following:

(a) declare that the complaint was or, as the case may be, was not well founded,

(b) require the employer to comply with subsection (1) of this section, and, for that purpose, require the employer to take specified steps,

(c) require the employer to pay to the employee compensation of such amount (if any) as is just and equitable having regard to all the circumstances, but not exceeding 104 weeks remuneration in respect of the employee's employment calculated in accordance with regulations under section 17 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977 ,

and the references in the foregoing paragraphs to an employer shall be construed, in a case where ownership of the business of the employer changes after the contravention to which the complaint relates occurred, as references to the person who, by virtue of the change, becomes entitled to such ownership.

(6) For the purposes of this section—

(a) subsections (3) to (6) and subsection (7)(a) of section 7 of the Act of 1994 shall apply in relation to a complaint presented under this section as they apply in relation to a complaint presented under subsection (1) of that section 7, with the following modifications, namely—

(i) the deletion in that subsection (3) of all the words from “if it is presented” to the end of that subsection and the substitution of “unless it is presented to him within the period of 12 months beginning on the date of the contravention to which the complaint relates or (in a case where the rights commissioner is satisfied that exceptional circumstances prevented the presentation of the complaint within the period aforesaid) such further period, not exceeding 6 months from the expiration of the said period of 12 months, as the rights commissioner considers reasonable”,

(ii) the substitution in that subsection (6) of a reference to a decision for the reference to a recommendation,

and any other necessary modifications,

(b) sections 8 to 10 of the Act of 1994 shall apply as they apply for the purposes of that Act, with the following modifications, namely—

(i) the substitution in those provisions of references to a decision for references to a recommendation,

(ii) the addition to section 8 of the following subsection:

“(7) Proceedings under this section before the Tribunal shall be heard otherwise than in public.”,

(iii) the substitution in section 9 of the Act of 1994 of—

(I) references to the Circuit Court for references to the District Court, and

(II) the following subsection for subsection (3):

“(3) An application under this section to the Circuit Court shall be made to the judge of the Circuit Court for the circuit in which the employer concerned ordinarily resides or carries on any profession, trade or business.”,

and any other necessary modifications.

(7) For the avoidance of doubt nothing in subsection (6) of this section operates to confer on the Minister any of the functions of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment under the Act of 1994 and those functions shall be performable by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment for the purposes of the provisions of the Act of 1994, as applied by that subsection (6), to the like extent as they are performable by him or her for the purposes of the Act of 1994 and the provisions of the Act of 1994 (including section 11) shall apply accordingly.