Legal regulations regarding the necessity to introduce procedures guaranteeing the protection of Whistleblowers will enter into force soon. They will apply to entrepreneurs and public entities.
The term Whistleblower was officialy made public at the end of 2019, when the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) on the protection of persons reporting breaches of EU rights entered into force. The act, to which all public administration authorities in Poland will have to comply with, employing at least 50 employees and enterprises employing over 250 employees, is to enter into force in December 2021. The above-mentioned entities are obliged to introduce specific procedures that will enable reporting of breaches and ensure the protection of reporting persons. The goal of Whistleblowers is to be guided by the good of the workplace and all employees. Both acts and omissions that are inconsistent with applicable regulations may be reported.
Find out more about the objectives of the directive here.
The directive is intended to regulate the protection of persons who report irregularities in an organization. It is possible to report irregularities and violations through three channels:
In connection with the entry into force of the new act, employers are bound by a number of procedures and obligations to ensure the protection of Whistleblowers.
First of all, the supervisor's task is to create an internal channel through which people will be able to report violations in a safe and confidential manner. The Directive stipulates that the Whistleblower's identity may not be disclosed to any unauthorized person who is not part of the group responsible for receiving reports and resolving problems. The exception to this rule is the situation when the person concerned by the report has the right to defense, and in the course of the ongoing explanatory or court proceedings, disclosure of the Whistleblower's identity is necessary.
Moreover, the access channels are to ensure the receipt of reports in a written or oral form. When the Whistleblower reports a problem, the person receiving the report should confirm its receipt within 7 days.
In order to proceed with the follow-up and remedial actions, the employer is obligedto communicate with the Whistleblower and appoint an impartial person or competent department. The indicated entity is to start corrective actions after receiving the notification. Another important issue is the deadline for providing the Whistleblower with feedback on the progress in the reported case, which may not be longer than 3 months.
The directive also defines the rules for keeping a register of notifications that the employer is to create. This type of register should contain:
The employer carries responsibility in case that he inhibit the reporting, takes retaliation against the Whistleblower or breaches the confidentiality obligation of the person reporting the irregularities. The same penalty is also imposed on the person who made a false report or disclosed false information to the public.
By December 17 of 2021, the employer is required to introduce an internal channel for reporting violations of the law and taking corrective action. If, by that date, your company does not implement appropriate procedures, you, as an employer, will be threatened with a fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
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