Poland has to implement EU regulations on whistleblowers protection until December 17, and the relevant law has still not been adopted. Firms are waiting for clear guidelines on how to implement internal procedures to protect those who report breaches of law.
The draft law on the protection of persons who report breaches of law or the Whistleblower Act, was published on 18 October 2021 on the website of the Government Legislation Centre. It is to implement Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law.
Currently, social and inter-ministerial consultations are still underway, and employers make additional demands, such as on the extension of vacatio legis with regard to the law on whistleblowers. According to the current provisions, after the adoption of the act, some obliged entities will have to implement appropriate procedures very fast, and criminal sanctions may be imposed for failure to fulfil those obligations.
Time is running, but the employers still do not know the final content of the law, which makes it difficult to prepare for new obligations.
Whistleblowers protection, in principle, is to ensure that persons who report breaches in good faith are anonymous, their personal data are confidential and they are protected against retaliation actions. Protection is to be ensured by the employer, who should implement appropriate procedures to this end, e.g. create an internal channel for receiving and handling reports and appoint a person or organizational unit responsible for examining reports and planning corrective actions. In addition, every employer will be required to keep a record of all reports made by whistleblowers.
The employers may face severe penalties for failing to fulfil their new obligations. The draft law contains provisions laying down criminal sanctions. Failure to introduce internal regulations may result in a fine or imprisonment. The law makers provided for the same sanctions in the event of preventing the reporting of violation of law, disclosure of the whistleblower’s data or taking retaliation against the reporting person (for example, dismissal of an employee who reported the violation).
The draft act gave rise to a number of controversies among the business community who, as part of public consultations, file demands on issues such as:
New demands to introduce changes to the draft law on whistleblowers protection keep coming in, while employers are impatiently waiting for the draft to be passed. However, the largest companies that will have to implement new solutions in the first place can take appropriate preparatory actions now.
TGC Corporate Lawyers offer comprehensive support in implementation of the reporting system, audits and establishing and adopting of the obligatory procedures.