Recently, a new law on the protection of whistleblowers (ZZPri) has come into effect, providing greater protection to individuals who report irregularities or violations of regulations in their work environment. A whistleblower is a natural person who reports or publicly discloses information about a violation obtained in their work environment. The law covers not only persons employed by the employer but also those employed by the employer on another legal basis (e.g., contract work, student work, volunteering). The law also applies to anonymous reports.
ZZPri provides protection to whistleblowers against retaliatory measures by employers, such as termination of employment, suspension of employment contract, reassignment to a lower position or prevention of advancement, disciplinary measures, harassment, discrimination, and other measures provided by the law. In addition, the new law also provides certain protective or supportive measures, such as a ban on disclosure of the whistleblower’s identity without their explicit consent, exemption from liability for the whistleblower (provided that the report did not contain false information), compensation for unemployment, and psychological support. In the event of retaliatory measures, the whistleblower can seek legal protection before the competent court, and in these proceedings, they are also entitled to free legal aid.
ZZPri applies to entities with 50 or more employees, entities with less than 50 but at least 10 employees if their main registered activity is in the field of health care, water collection, purification and distribution, wastewater treatment, waste management, and several other areas specified by ZZPri, as well as ministries, government services, administrative units, public agencies and other state bodies specified by law, and self-governing local communities. Entities subject to ZZPri must establish an internal reporting mechanism and take measures to protect whistleblowers.
Entities subject to ZZPri must designate contact information and take measures to prevent the disclosure of the whistleblower’s identity and appoint a trustee who may be one of the employees or an external service provider for receiving reports. All of the above should be regulated by the adoption of an internal act, which should also describe the procedure for internal reporting. Private sector entities employing 250 or more persons and public sector entities subject to ZZPri must establish internal reporting mechanisms within 90 days of ZZPri coming into force, i.e., no later than May 23, 2023. Private sector entities employing fewer than 250 persons must establish internal reporting mechanisms no later than December 17, 2023.