Employers should soon audit and implement changes related to the entry into force of the Whistleblowers Act

Publication / 06.05.2024

In April 2024, yet another government bill on whistle-blowers was submitted to the Parliament. This information is important because the deadline by which member states were supposed to implement into their national legal order Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 23, 2019 on the protection of whistleblowers against violations of Union law had already passed more than two years ago.

The directive explicitly requires member states to implement regulations related to whistleblowing, establishing the modalities for reporting and following up on violations, as well as those related to the protection of whistleblowers, in order to better enforce European Union laws and policies through more effective detection of violations.

Among other things, the new draft amends the law’s subject catalogue, which has been expanded to include issues such as constitutional freedoms and human and civil rights, labour law, and corruption.

The above means that a whistleblower will be able to report violations related to:

  • mobbing,
  • harassment,
  • discrimination occurring in the workplace, as well as
  • other violations of regulations from the broadly defined labor law, such as violations of regulations on working time, vacation leave.

In the new bill, the rules of protection to which a whistleblower is entitled have been clarified. It is explicitly indicated that a whistleblower is entitled to protection from the moment of filing a report or public disclosure, provided that the whistleblower had reasonable grounds to believe that the information that was the subject of the report or public disclosure was true, at the time of filing the report or public disclosure, and that it constituted information about a violation of the law.

The draft law does not explicitly regulate anonymous reports, stating only that they may be reported. The bill introduces the principle that the matter of accepting or refusing to accept anonymous reports should be regulated in internal and external reporting procedures.

The bill introduces the principle that a whistleblower against whom retaliation has been committed is entitled to damages in an amount not lower than the average monthly salary in the national economy in the previous year, as well as compensation.

Employers, starting from the date of the law’s promulgation, will have 3 months to implement a system for receiving internal reports and 6 months to implement a system for receiving external reports.

It should also be pointed out that the prohibited act – according to the current draft law – is:

  • preventing or obstructing a notification,
  • retaliating against a whistleblower,
  • revealing the identity of the whistleblower or the person assisting the whistleblower,
  • failing to establish an internal procedure at all or establishing one in material violation of statutory requirements.

The aforementioned violations of failing to establish or establishing an improper internal procedure are punishable by a fine.

All employers should therefore take care to analyse their internal regulations related to whistleblowers for their compliance with the statutory requirements, and possibly make appropriate changes.