Who is a Whistleblower?

Published: 
13.7.2022 20:57
Who is a Whistleblower?

The term "whistleblower" was popularized with the entry into force of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council on October 23, 2019. This document legally defined the protection of persons reporting irregularities in enterprises. Who is a Whistleblower? What conditions must persons fulfill to be protected by the Directive?

Who is a Whistleblower?

According to the Directive on the protection of Whistleblowers, a Whistleblower is a person who has information about a breach that he or she has witnessed, directly or indirectly. In order to obtain the status of a Whistleblower, the reporting person should be based on facts about events that had or could have a negative effect on the interests of the company and its employees. Whistleblowing is designed to counteract unlawful behavior in the future and solve any problems as quickly as possible.

It is worth noting that the Whistleblower acts in the best interest of the company and the general public and should not be associated with the Whistleblower. The latter term refers to people who are driven by their own self-interest for the sake of personal gain. On the other hand, the Whistleblower, driven by the improvement of the quality of work, reports illegal situations that bear the hallmarks of, for example, mobbing, corruption, or money withdrawal.

Due to the entry into force of the Whistleblower Protection Directive, reporting persons do not have to fear repercussions or retaliation, as they are legally protected by European Union law, and after the approval of the new draft act, also by Polish law.

Who is covered by the Whistleblower Directive?

The new regulations are to apply to legal entities, both from the public and private sectors, employing at least 50 people. In the case of large companies with 250 employees or more, employers were required to implement the directive by December 17, 2021. In turn, for entities employing from 50 to 249 people, the deadline for implementing the provisions into the organizational structures is extended and lasts until December 17, 2023.

At the moment everyone in Poland is indeed waiting for the national regulations and approval of the new draft act on the protection of Whistleblowers, but this does not change the fact that every entrepreneur covered by the directive must implement an internal channel to manage tickets now. According to the new regulations, it should take the form of an IT program, such as for example Whistleblower.

It is worth noting that the directive applies to people working in sectors such as:

- consumer protection,

- environmental protection,

- radiological protection and nuclear safety,

- protection of privacy and personal data,

- protection of networks and information systems,

- public procurement,

- product safety,

- transport safety,

- food safety,

- public health.

What conditions must be met to become a Whistleblower?

First of all, to become a Whistleblower, a person must be willing to make a report and take appropriate steps towards it. The reporting person should also be an indirect or direct witness of the behavior that violates the law. Moreover, it must have relevant information proving the situation that took place in the organization. It is very important that the information mentioned is true, proven, and based on facts so that there is no slander. The signaling must be made in good faith to serve a public purpose and not be related to revenge. Reports cannot be made publicly available, and the employer has a responsibility to protect the confidentiality of Whistleblowers' identities.

 

To sum up, the entry into force of the Directive on the protection of Whistleblowers will certainly contribute to the improvement of the quality of work in the organization, due to the detection of problems at an early stage of their occurrence. The regulations ensure the safety of reporting persons, and an appropriate system, such as Whistleblower, guarantees compliance with the regulations and the protection of employees who wish to submit a report.