On 7 July 2022, the latest bill on the protection of whistleblowers, implementing the EU Whistleblowing Directive, was published on the website of the Government Legislation Centre. The bill clarifies some issues but does not make many drastic modifications in relation to the previous bill of 6 April 2022). Below are the most important changes.
According to the latest bill:
- The employer will have the burden of proving that any actions it takes against whistleblowers are not retaliatory;
- It has been clarified that a person who has suffered damage due to incorrect reporting or disclosure will be able to claim compensation from the person who made the report. Details have also been provided about the amount of compensation, which should be at least the average monthly wage in the business sector, with reference to the day on which the report or disclosure was made;
- The establishment of an incentive system for the use of the internal reporting procedure has been added to the mandatory elements of the procedure. As an optional element, the bill also includes information on the principles of secure and untraceable reporting in the information system;
- The deadline for arranging a face-to-face meeting with the person making the report has been extended from seven days to 14 days;
- It has been clarified that the obligation of secrecy regarding the report and any follow-up actions taken in connection with it continues even after the termination of the employment or other legal relationship under which an authorised person performed activities related to the report;
- The information to be entered in the register of internal reports has been extended to include the personal data of the person making the report and the person to whom the report relates, as well as the contact address of the person making the report;
- Attempting to obstruct the making of a report is no longer subject to criminal liability; according to the latest bill, only the actual obstructing of making a report is to be punishable by a fine or a restriction of liberty;
- An adjudication of whether an entity has failed to establish an internal reporting procedure or has established a procedure in violation of the new law is to be made in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure;
- The time for private entities employing more than 250 people to establish an internal reporting procedure has been extended from one month to two months from the date on which the new law enters into force, which means that in practice (taking into account the two-month vacatio legis) they will have four months to do so.
Unfortunately, this latest bill does not dispel all the doubts raised at the opinion and consultation stage of the previous bill. There is still no regulation of issues concerning common policies for the procedure of internal reporting within a group of companies, or an indication of who specifically can be considered as a person related to or assisting the person making a report, who are covered by special protection against retaliation.
In addition, there is no information about when this bill will be submitted to the Parliament or how efficiently the legislative process will proceed. Most likely, we can expect the law to enter into force at the end of the year. We are monitoring the ongoing legislative work and will keep you updated on any developments.
Justyna Helbing, Paralegal