23.11.2021

Protection of whistleblowers. The obligation of certain entities already 17 December 2021.

Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law will impose a new obligation on businesses to have a ‘whistleblowing’ system in place already in December this year. The directive is commonly referred to as the ‘whistleblower directive’, as it is intended to provide protection to individuals working in the private or public sector who report or disclose information about a breach of law.

 

The obligation to have a reporting system in place will not only be imposed on public administrations or social organizations but also legal entities in the private sector. Beginning from 17 December 2021, it will apply to companies with 250 or more employees. However, for entities with a headcount of 50 or more, the obligation to report breaches will come into effect on 17 December 2023. The situation is slightly different for businesses involved in financial market regulation or AML – those are to be subject to the obligation to implement whistleblower protection requirements regardless of the number of employees.

 

In fact, the concept of whistleblowers is defined quite broadly. According to the directive, a whistleblower can be an employee, a self-employed person, a shareholder or partner in companies (and a member of their bodies), a volunteer or a trainee. Such a person will be protected, in particular, if they have reported a breach through one of the channels provided for in the directive.

 

The directive provides that there will be three channels for reporting breaches in the Member States. The first of these will be internal reporting, which takes place within the organization in which the whistleblower works. Alternatively, there will be external reporting, (i.e., to a relevant outside authority). The last channel is called ‘public disclosure’, which is when the information is made public.

Whistleblowers are to be afforded a number of remedial measures – notably a prohibition on disclosure of identity unless the whistleblower gives consent.

 

The remedies provided for in the directive are also intended to protect against possible retaliation against the reporting person. They ensure that a whistleblower is not sent on unpaid leave, suspended, withheld from promotion or dismissed.

However, it should be noted that we are currently waiting for a draft Polish law which will undoubtedly dispel the remaining uncertainties and help our clients prepare for the upcoming changes.

Incidentally, we are pleased to inform the readers about the recent success of our law firm. In the 35th issue of Newsweek, the managing partner of our firm, legal adviser Tomasz Janaszczyk, had the pleasure to introduce the readers to the planned changes and present the benefits resulting from them. We invite you to read the article.

 

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