Phillips & Cohen partner Erika Kelton’s letter to the editor was published in the The Irish Times on April 7, 2018. Ms. Kelton’s letter is a reaction to the Times’ article “Whistleblowing HSE staff fear complaining to boss, report finds,” which discussed the fear of retaliation shared by many Irish health workers. The original article was published on March 28, 2018.
Based on my experience as a whistleblower attorney, I know that retaliation for whistleblowing frequently occurs across industries both public and private. So, it’s unsurprising that employees providing HSE-funded services are afraid to go to their bosses with concerns about abuse and other issues affecting vulnerable residents …
More needs to be done to encourage employees to speak up by providing them a way to balance the risks they take when they blow the whistle. No matter where whistleblowing occurs, strong anti-retaliation provisions and financial rewards are necessary to both protect and reward whistleblowers for reporting wrongful conduct – whether it is conduct that costs taxpayers or offends standards of human decency. Whistleblowers provide a public good and their courageous conduct should be encouraged.
Whistleblower programmes providing financial incentives have been effective in the US, including stopping harmful healthcare practices and abuse in nursing homes as well as helping to recover government funds that have been spent in those cases. Policymakers in Ireland should consider similar whistleblowing incentives and protections to improve transparency and compliance in both public and private enterprises.