We would like to inform you that the transposition of the EU Whistleblower Directive into the Polish legal system may soon become a reality. As announced, the government plans to adopt a draft law in the first quarter of 2024, although the extension of the work is not excluded, as of 18.01.2024. The Stefan Batory Foundation and several other organizations appealed to the government to abandon the urgent legislative work and to make more comprehensive amendments to the draft law. The latest text of the draft law on the protection of whistleblowers was published on the website of the Government Legislation Centre on 12.01.2024 (print no. UC 1) and sent to the Permanent Committee of the Council of Ministers on 19.01.2024.
What changes from previous drafts are contained in the latest version of the draft law?
The current draft of the law, which will be considered by the Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers, differs from the previous draft, among other things, by
- replacing the State Labour Inspectorate, which was to act as a body to receive external reports and provide assistance to reporters, with the Ombudsman;
- removing the proviso that the whistleblower is protected by law if the information reported or disclosed to the public concerns the public interest;
- introducing the possibility (instead of the obligation) for the public authority responsible for follow-up action to issue a certificate to the whistleblower stating that he/she is subject to the protection of the law;
- deletion of the provisions proposed in the previous version of the draft, which would have obliged the public authority to obtain a declaration from the whistleblower, under penalty of liability for false testimony, that the information on the infringement was true at the time of the notification;
- changing the date of entry into force of the draft law – the law is to enter into force one month after the date of its promulgation, while the implementation of the obligation to establish internal and external channels for reporting is to take place within one month after the date of entry into force of the law.
In this context, we would like to remind you that the main obligations related to the implementation of whistleblower protection under the draft law include
- the obligation to establish an internal whistleblowing procedure and follow-up,
- defining and granting written authorizations for receiving and reviewing reports, taking follow-up action and processing personal data,
- establishing ways or channels for whistleblowers to submit reports,
- establishing and maintaining a register of internal reports,
- the prohibition of retaliation and the obligation to comply with whistleblower protection measures.
In the current draft, the law is expected to enter into force one month after the date of its promulgation in the Journal of Laws, while the implementation of the obligation to establish:
- procedures for internal reporting by legal entities,
- procedures for receiving external reports, or procedures for external reports by the Ombudsman or a public body
– should be implemented within 1 month after the entry into force of the Act,
Entrepreneurs will have only 2 months after the entry into force of the Act to prepare internal procedures and consult with their employees. For this reason, it is worth considering earlier, during the legislative process, the preparation of appropriate procedures, i.e. internal notifications, by those employers who will be affected by the above-mentioned law, i.e. according to current assumptions, employers for whom at least 50 people work (Art. 23(1) of the draft law). Therefore, our Law Firm will keep you informed of the further progress of the legislative process on the above-mentioned draft law and of any significant changes to it.
Our law firm remains at your disposal on the above-mentioned subject.