Whistle-blowing/Protected disclosures

There are statutory provisions, known as "whistle-blowing", which place a legal requirement on a range of specified persons involved in the operation of occupational pension schemes and PRSAs to report suspected fraud or material misappropriation to the Pensions Authority. There is also provision to make a voluntary report on any matter concerning the state and conduct of a scheme or a PRSA.

Specified persons in the Pensions Act include:

  • auditors
  • actuaries
  • trustees
  • insurance intermediaries
  • PRSA providers
  • investment advisers
  • any other person who has been involved in assisting the trustees of a scheme.

The provisions also contain legal protection for the persons making such reports.

Whistle-blow reports, and other serious complaints or allegations are investigated by the Pensions Authority. The Authority commences all investigations from a position of trying to secure compliance without recourse to legal action, but it remains committed, where necessary, to using its full powers under the Act.

The majority of whistle-blow reports to the Authority relate to alleged breaches of the remittance of contributions requirements. There is a standard report form to assist in making report in relation to suspected non-remittance of contributions. The form can be accessed below.

Protected Disclosures

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (“2014 Act”) provides that a worker may make a protected disclosure in certain circumstances to a “prescribed person” under the 2014 Act. The Pensions Regulator is such a “prescribed person”. A worker may make a protected disclosure if he or she reasonably believes that a relevant wrongdoing which relates to the following has occurred::

“All matters relating to the monitoring and supervision of the operation of the Pensions Act 1990 (other than investigations by, and decisions of, the Pensions Ombudsman), including the activities of Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) providers, the provision of PRSA products and the operation of PRSAs and the issue of guidelines and codes of practice for trustees of occupational pensions and providers of PRSAs”.

Please note that the 2014 Act also provides that for the disclosure to qualify as a protected disclosure, the worker must believe that the information and any allegation contained in it are substantially true.

If you wish to make a disclosure under the 2014 Act, you can do so by emailing protecteddisclosures@pensionsauthority.ie. Details that should be included in a disclosure are set out in the document below.

Please note that the 2014 Act does not oblige a worker to make a disclosure and it does not absolve a worker from any pre-existing mandatory reporting obligations set out in legislation, such as those contained in the Pensions Act, 1990.