Work on whistleblower protection law is gathering pace


Dear Sirs,

we would like to inform you that on 6 March 2024, a new bill on protection of whistleblowers was posted on the website of the Governmental Legislation Centre (print no. UC1), which aims to implement the EU Directive No. 2019/1937 of 23 October 2019 on the protection of whistleblowers.

The new bill, like the previous ones, aims to regulate whistleblowing, protection of whistleblowers and follow-up by legal entities and public authorities. In addition, the draft solutions are intended to complement previously pending legislation on protection measures related to the reporting or disclosure of violations.

Compared to previous versions of the bill (i.a. 12.01.2024), however, it differs substantially in the following respects:

  • change of nomenclature: from now on, the bill on protection of whistleblowers will be proceeded with, rather than the bill on protection of persons reporting violations of law. As the legislator points out, the above is dictated by the fact that the term ‘whistleblower’ is much more commonly used in relation to the issue of whistleblowing;
  • expanding the scope of the term ‘whistleblower’: the term ‘whistleblower’ will also include a temporary employee within the meaning of the Act of 9 July 2003 on the employment of temporary employees (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 1563, as amended). In addition, the Act will also cover whistleblowers or disclosers a violation of the law if they have made a report or disclosure of a violation of the law in a work-related context, even before the employment relationship or other legal relationship forming the basis for the provision of work or services or the performance of functions in or for a legal entity or the performance of service in a legal entity has been established or when such relationship has already ceased;
  • expansion of the catalogue of violations of the law: the catalogue has been expanded to include human and civil liberties and rights, corruption, human trafficking and labour law;
  • modification concerning the possibility of accepting anonymous reports: the legislator will enable legal entities, the Ombudsman and public authorities to decide for themselves whether to accept anonymous reports;
  • clarification of the calculation of the workforce determining the obligation to implement the whistleblowing system: a legal entity for which, as of 1 January or 1 July of a given year, at least 50 persons are gainfully employed will be obliged to implement an internal whistleblowing procedure and follow-up. This number includes full-time employees or persons performing paid work on a basis other than employment relationship, if they do not employ other persons for such work, regardless of the basis of employment;
  • extending protection for potential whistleblowers by allowing them to benefit from free legal assistance and advice;
  • extending the vacatio legis: the proposed law is to enter into force 3 months after the date of its promulgation, with the exception of the provisions of Chapter 4 (on external notifications), which will take effect 6 months after the date of the law’s promulgation.

Also importantly, the provisions of this Act will not apply to information covered by: the provisions on the protection of classified information, the secrecy of the medical and legal professions, the secrecy of the judicial deliberation and criminal proceedings – as regards the secrecy of the pre-trial proceedings and the secrecy of the trial conducted in camera.

We will keep you informed about the progress of the whistleblower bill under way and any further significant changes to its content.