Comparison of channels for reporting irregularities by Whistleblowers.

Due to the entry into force of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and the Council, Whistleblowers have the option of reporting irregularities and violations they have witnessed through three different channels: internal, external and by public disclosure. Which one should you choose? What is the order of reporting?

Internal channel for ticket management.

The new draft act on the protection of Whistleblowers presented in April 2022 by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy defines in detail internal reports. Below we present the most important assumptions mentioned in the act.

  1. The need to create and provide employees with the possibility of reporting irregularities through an internal channel applies to legal entities with at least 50 employees. People who employ fewer than 50 employees may also introduce such regulations, but in their case it is voluntary.
  2. Employers are required to establish internal reporting regulations, which define the methods of reporting, receiving, and managing tickets. This is done after consultation with the company trade union or employee representative. Moreover, it is the employers' job to ensure impartial verification of the applications and to appoint a person responsible for their receipt. They must also ensure that Whistleblowers are protected by the confidentiality of their identities so that others cannot be identified.
  3. According to the Act, the created regulations must enter into force after 2 weeks from the date on which they were presented to all employees.
  4. Whistleblowers may submit reports electronically, in writing, or verbally.
  5. Employers who act as data controllers are required to keep a systematic register of internal reports. This type of document should contain the number of the case, the subject of the violation, the date of ticket, information on remedial actions, and the date of completion of the case.
  6. In the internal reporting regulations, employers must first of all specify:
  • a person responsible for managing tickets,
  • methods of submitting tickets,
  • information on the possibility or prohibition of accepting anonymous reports,
  • an independent person whose task will be to take remedial action and communicate with the Whistleblower,
  • the obligation to conform to the notifier of receipt of the ticket within 7 days from the date of its receipt,
  • the maximum time limit for providing feedback to the notifier, not exceeding 3 months from the acknowledgment of receipt of the ticket or, in the case of failure to provide the ticket to the notifier, 3 months from the lapse of 7 days from the submission of the ticket.

In summary, the internal channel is the first step in signaling problems in the workplace. The new draft act on the protection of Whistleblowers mentions the method of reporting internal breaches and is to be only an electronic channel. Whistleblower is the software that meets all the legal requirements of the directive and guarantees the protection of the confidentiality of the identity of persons reporting irregularities.

External channel for ticket management.

Witnesses of violations are indeed encouraged to initially report them via the internal channel, but the new draft provides for the possibility of external reports without prior ticket via the internal channel. It has been assumed that the central body is the Ombudsman and it is he or the public body that accepts, performs initial verification, and sends all external tickets to the competent authorities.

It is the task of the public body to prepare reports for each calendar year that contain information on the statistical data of the external reporting. Then, by 31 January each year, the report must be submitted to the central authority, which sends the final version to the European Commission.

Public disclosures.

Public disclosure is the provision of information about an infringement of the law to the public through the mass media, such as television or the press. This channel is the last resort and is intended for use by those who have reasonable grounds to believe that a breach may pose a threat to the entire public interest. Whistleblowers may choose to do so in cases where they have not received feedback or have not received corrective action through internal and external channels.

When choosing a reporting channel, Whistleblowers should take into account the specifications of each of the above-mentioned options and pay attention to the issues of data confidentiality protection and ways to protect against retaliation. The internal channel for reporting irregularities is certainly the fastest way to draw attention to problems in the organization. Use the safe and fully compliant with directive Whistleblower system.