On 17 December 2019, Directive 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law, commonly known as the Whistleblower Directive, came into force. The Member States of the European Union have two years to introduce into their legal systems the solutions ensuring the support and protection of whistleblowers, i.e. people who report irregularities under their work, duties or contract. Note that the directive sets minimum standards in terms the channels and procedures used to report irregularities and protect whistleblowers. The final form of the solutions will be decided by national legislators. In terms of Polish regulations, it is not yet certain whether the issue of whistleblowers will be governed under a separate law or, for example, incorporated into a new law projected for some time, i.e. the law on the responsibility of collective entities.
According to the Directive, the new obligations regarding the support and protection of whistleblowers will apply to private sector entities with at least 50 employees (with some exceptions as specified in other legal acts, such as act on counteracting money laundering and terrorist financing) and all public sector entities (Member States will be able to exempt from this obligation the communes with less than 10,000 inhabitants or less than 50 employees and other public sector entities with less than 50 employees).
Entrepreneurs will be required to prepare procedures for internal reporting and follow-up, and in particular the following:
- prepare the channels for acceptance of reports ensuring that the identity of whistle-blowers is kept confidential,
- provide, within 7 days, a confirmation to the reporting person that the report has been accepted and, within a maximum of 3 months from the report, a feedback on how the case has been handled,
- appoint an impartial person, department or external entity to carry out the follow-up (these entities will also be able to accept and handle the reports),
- provide clear and easily accessible information on the report procedure.
We do not know the final form of national legislation yet, but it is a good idea to consider how you can prepare for the implementation of the new procedures.