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Whistleblowing Directive Tracker

COUNTRY-LEVEL UPDATES ON IMPLEMENTATION STATUS

Once implemented into national law, the EU’s Whistleblowing Directive (2019/1837/EU) is expected to have a significant impact on the policies and processes of companies related to employment relationships, data privacy and processing safeguards. This means that businesses will need to review and adjust their compliance procedures. The Directive allows for significant freedom for countries to implement it into national laws beyond its original scope and may pose substantial challenges to businesses to implement appropriate whistleblowing channels.

The Directive is applicable to private and public sector organisations and covers a wide range of business activities and topics: from public procurement and environmental protection to consumer protection and product safety. While the spectrum of reporting channels is also broad, from internal reporting to public disclosure, the Directive provides significant legal protection for whistleblowers, as well as financial and non-financial incentives to report violations. In addition, it imposes a reverse burden of proof on companies.

As the Directive is expected to be implemented in most CEE/SEE countries in 2023, our Whistleblowing Tracker will follow the implementation status in 13 countries in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (EU and non-EU countries) and provide an overview of upcoming changes.

Go to respective country: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine

ALBANIA

Information current as of 9 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
N/A
However, in 2016 Albania adopted the Law no 60/2016 “On whistleblowing and protection of whistleblowers” and several ancillary legal acts (the “Effective Law “).

2. What is the implementation period?
N/A

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Under the Effective Law, a whistleblower may choose to remain anonymous, and the employer must respect this (also in the case of anonymous reports). Generally, whistleblowers are protected from retaliation and cannot be fired or demoted. They cannot be penalised in any other way either, such as blacklisting, reduction of pay, reassignment, salary decrease, loss of office or privileges or change in duties.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
Under the Effective Law, a fine of up to EUR 4,500 can be imposed for penalising a whistleblower or up to EUR 1,000 for breaching the confidentiality of the whistleblower’s identity.

Furthermore, any failure by the employer to initiate an investigation after receiving a report of corruption by an employee may also lead to a fine of ALL 500,000 (approx. EUR 4,000).

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AUSTRIA

Information current as of 02 February 2023

1. Current implementation status
Directive not yet transposed. The Draft Bill on Whistleblower Protection was submitted to the Parliament on 15 December 2022 (“Draft Bill”). The Draft Bill was then approved by the parliamentary Social Committee at the end of January and went through the first chamber of the Parliament on 1 February 2023. The Draft Bill still needs to undergo the rest of the parliamentary process, in particular go through the second chamber of the Parliament. The exact date of the entry into force is therefore still unclear.

There is currently no existing uniform legislation governing whistleblower protection. There are, however, some regulations in individual sectors on whistleblower protection and/or on reporting channels, most notably in the banking sector.

2. What is the implementation period?
Under to the Draft Bill, the new legislation will enter into force on the day following its promulgation, however:

  • following the entry into force, enterprises with 250 employees will have six (6) months to establish reporting channels;
  • enterprises with 50 to 249 employees will be subject to regulations on the establishment of reporting channels as at 17 December 2023;
  • the bill will not apply to enterprises with less than 50 employees.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Under the Draft Bill, anonymous reporting is permitted, and anonymous whistleblowers enjoy the same protection as non-anonymous whistleblowers. However, enterprises are not obliged to enable anonymous reporting in their reporting channels.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
Under the Draft Bill, a fine of up to EUR 20,000 (EUR 40,000 in the event of recurrence) can be imposed for (i) hindering or attempting to hinder reporting, (ii) bringing vexatious proceedings against a whistleblower, (iii) retaliating against a whistleblower, (iv) breaching the confidentiality of a whistleblower’s identity or (v) knowingly making a false report.
Furthermore, in the case of retaliation measures taken against the whistleblower, (i) the measure is deemed void (e.g. in the case of a termination of employment) and/or (ii) the person responsible for the retaliation is obliged to restore legal compliance and will be liable for compensation for material loss and personal impairment suffered (e.g., in the case of disadvantageous or unfair treatment).

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Information current as of 09 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
N/A
Whistleblowing is only partially and briefly regulated by several Company Law Acts (at entity levels), the Law on Protection of Witnesses and several Laws on Public Service. At the state level, the only applicable act is the Law on Protection of Individuals Reporting Corruption in Institutions of BIH which was adopted in 2013. Apart from that, the Law on Protection of Individuals Reporting Corruption has been adopted in Republic Srpska and in Brcko Districit BIH. In FBIH, there is no such legislation.

2. What is the implementation period?
N/A

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
N/A

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
N/A

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BULGARIA

Information current as of 03 February 2023.

1. Current implementation status
The EU Whistleblowing Directive is transposed into national law with the new Whistleblower Protection Act (“WPA”), promulgated in State Gazette Nr. 11 of 03.02.2023.

2. What is the implementation period?
The act shall enter into force on 2 May 2023, i.e. three months after its promulgation in the State Gazette. However, the provisions for establishing an internal whistleblower channels in companies and legal entities in the public sector with more than 50 employees shall enter into force as of 17 December 2023.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
The WPA does not allow anonymous reporting and explicitly provides that no investigation shall be initiated upon the submission of anonymous signals. However, it also provides that these provisions are without prejudice, and protection against retaliation shall still be afforded to anonymous whistleblowers who have submitted the anonymous report not under the WPA, but under another legal act (currently, no such local legal act exists).

The new WPA supports the more skeptical view on anonymous reports, already established in the existing sector-specific pieces of legislation governing whistleblowing. For more on this topic, please see here.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
The WPA contains different sanctions depending on the type and the severity of the violation in question for the individual involved.

Legal entities, which are required to establish internal channels for reporting and failed to comply with this obligation, may be subject to administrative fines in the range of BGN 5,000 – BGN 20,000 (approx. EUR 2,500 – EUR 10,000), respectively BGN 10,000 – BGN 30,000 for repeated violations.

Reporting or publicly disclosing false information deliberately may be sanctioned with a fine in the range of BGN 3,000 – BGN 7,000 (approx. EUR 1,500 – EUR 3,500).

Sanctions in the range of BGN 400 – BGN 4,000 (approx. EUR 200 – EUR 2,000) may be imposed for the following violations:

  • of the confidentiality obligations;
  • obstruction of the submission of a signal;
  • failure or delay to take the necessary follow-up actions on the signal deliberately;
  • failure to provide information on the follow-up of the whistleblower within three months.

A fine in the range BGN 2,000 – BGN 4,000 (approx. EUR 1,000 – EUR 2,000) may be imposed on a person who: (i) takes an action for the purpose of retaliation against the person who submitted the report or against a person related to him/her; or (ii) initiates proceedings, if it is carried out with the sole intention of harming the whistleblower.

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CROATIA

Information current as of 06 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
The EU Whistleblowing Directive is fully transposed in the Croatian Act on Protection of Persons Reporting Irregularities (Zakon o zaštiti prijavitelja nepravilnosti (OG 46/22); the “Act”), which entered into force on 23 April 2022.

Croatia previously had legislation on whistleblower protection (Act on Protection of Persons Reporting Irregularities, OG 17/19), which was in force from 1 July 2019 to 22 April 2022.

2. What is the implementation period?
Already implemented.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
The Act does not explicitly address this issue. However, there are strong arguments in favour of the standpoint that anonymous reporting is permitted. There is no specific regulatory guidance about anonymous reporting at this time.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
Failure to establish an internal reporting channel and ensure its implementation (e.g. failure to adopt the relevant internal bylaws, appoint a confidential person etc.), may trigger a monetary fine up to approx. EUR 4,000 for the company and up to approx. EUR 1,400 for the responsible person within the company.

Retaliation or malicious actions of the company (e.g. disclosure of the identity of the reporting person without their consent, influencing the actions of the confidential person etc.) may trigger a monetary fine up to approx. EUR 6,600 for the company and up to approx. EUR 4,000 for the responsible person within the company.

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CZECH REPUBLIC

Information current as of 09 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
Not implemented. A draft bill has been approved by the Government and will be reviewed by the Parliament. Apart from this, there is no current applicable law regulating whistleblower protection.

2. What is the implementation period?
It is expected that the bill will become effective in July 2023.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Yes, but in such case the whistleblower will receive only limited protection from the Whistleblowing Act proposal.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
Under the draft bill, a fine of up to EUR 2,000 can be imposed for a false report. Responsible persons for handling reports can be fined up to EUR 4,000 for breaching their duties. Obliged entities within the meaning of the Whistleblowing Act can be fined up to EUR 40,000 or 5% of their net annual turnover.

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HUNGARY

Information current as of 06 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
As the Whistleblowing Directive has not yet been implemented, there are currently no national provisions in this regard. The legislation implementing the Directive is currently under preparation and in the absence of the final government decision, the respective proposal has not yet been submitted to parliament (i.e. there is no publicly available draft legislation).

Even though the Directive has not yet been transposed, Hungary has separate legislation in force regarding the operation of whistleblowing systems, stipulated by the Act CLXV of 2013 on Complaints and Notifications of Public Interest (the “Effective Act”), which contains provisions that concern the protection of whistleblowers, although, such relevant law only imposes the obligation to maintain such systems for a limited number of state bodies and companies, leaving the implementation of these mechanisms optional for companies in the private sector.

Considering the deficiencies and the narrower scope of the Effective Act, several modifications and an impact on its regulations are to be expected in accordance with the Directive.

2. What is the implementation period?
There is no available information in this regard.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Under the Effective Act (which however does not implement the Directive), the competent body is not obliged to investigate anonymous reports. Exception: the body – at its discretion – may proceed if the report is justified by serious infringement of rights or interests.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
Since the Directive has not been implemented yet, there is no such national provision. The current regulation lacks a comprehensive sanction system.

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POLAND

Information current as of 09 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
The Whistleblowing Directive has not yet been implemented. The first draft of the Act implementing the Directive was published on the government legislation website on 18 October 2021 (the “Draft Act”). Since then, 5 versions of the Draft Act have already been issued. Further work on the Draft Act is expected. Currently, the Draft Act is at the opinion stage.

There are already specific provisions and sectoral arrangements related to the reporting of breaches of the law and other irregularities. These include, in particular, (i) provisions of banking law providing for the reporting of breaches or potential breaches of banking law and Regulation (EU) No 575/2013; (ii) provisions of the Trading In Financial Instruments Act obliging companies operating a regulated market to have procedures of anonymous reporting of any infringements of law, including Regulation No 596/2014 and Regulation 600/2014; (iii) provisions of the Act on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing requiring obliged institutions to develop and implement an internal procedure of anonymous reporting of actual or potential breaches of the provisions in the field of combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

2. What is the implementation period?
The new legislation enters into force 2 months after the date of its promulgation. Implementation of the obligation to establish internal and external procedures will take place within 2 months from the date of entry into force of the new legislation.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
According to the Draft Act, anonymous reporting is only permitted if such possibility is provided for in the internal or external reporting rules.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
The Draft Act proposes differentiated sanctions, depending on the severity of the violation in question for the individual involved. As a general rule, a fine, restriction of freedom or imprisonment is applicable, depending on the case. Penalties are provided for impeding a report, retaliating against the individual who made the report, revealing the identity of the individual who made the report, falsifying reports, and failing to implement internal procedures.

Under the Criminal Code a fine will be imposed in daily rates by setting out a number of daily rates and the value of one daily rate; unless the law states otherwise, the minimum number of daily rates is 10, and the maximum is 540.When determining the daily rate, the court shall take into account the offender’s income, personal and family situation, financial situation and earning capacity; the daily rate may not be lower than PLN 10 or higher than PLN 2,000.

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ROMANIA

Information current as of 09 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
The Romanian law transposing the EU Whistleblowing Directive (i.e. Law No.361/2022 – the “Romanian Whistleblowing Law”) entered into force on 22 December 2022.

In terms of the history of the Romanian Whistleblowing Law, after a long period of having two drafts running in parallel via the legislative channels, one of these drafts was approved by the first chamber of the Romanian Parliament (Senate) on 18 April 2022 and by the second one (Chamber of Deputies) on 29 June 2022. The approved draft was challenged before the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the draft does not raise issues from the constitutional angle. In parallel, the President of Romanian refused promulgation and sent the draft for re-examination to the Senate. The Senate approved again the draft on 1 September 2022.

After securing certain positive opinions, the draft law was included on the agenda of the decisional chamber of the Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, for the meeting on 4 October 2022. Up to mid-December 2022 there were no updates regarding the status, including why the draft was withdrawn on 4 October 2022 from the agenda of the Chamber of Deputies.

The draft was finally approved a second time by the decisional chamber of the Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, on 13 December 2022, and it was promulgated by the President of Romania on 16 December 2022. Further, the law was published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, on 19 December 2022, and entered into force in 3 (three) days after its publication, on 22 December 2022.

2. What is the implementation period?
According to the Romanian Whistleblowing Law, the obligation to put in place internal reporting channels for entities having between 50 and 249 employees is postponed to 17 December 2023. The reports in relation to which investigations were not finalised by the entrance into force of the Romanian Whistleblowing Law will remain regulated by the laws in effect upon reporting. The existing law approved in 2004 is repealed upon entrance into force of the Romanian Whistleblowing Law.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Yes. However, anonymous reporting will only be analysed to the extent that it contains sound indications regarding a breach.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
The applicable sanctions are fines ranging from EUR 400 to EUR 8,000.

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SERBIA

Information current as of 06 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
At the moment, there are no indications that the currently appliable Serbian Law on Protection of Whistleblowers from 2014 will be amended any time soon to implement the changes under the EU Whistleblowing Directive.

2. What is the implementation period?
N/A

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Yes. Under the currently appliable Serbian Law on Protection of Whistleblowers, anonymous reporting is permitted.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
Non-compliance with the Serbian Law on Protection of Whistleblowers exposes an employer and its responsible person/s to monetary fines ranging from approx. EUR 425 to approx. EUR 4,235, and from approx. EUR 85 to approx. EUR 850, respectively. The breaches include failure to adopt and/or publish a general enactment on the procedure for internal whistleblowing, failure to protect a whistleblower from harmful actions or not taking measures to stop harmful actions, failure to provide written notification of rights from this law to all employed persons, etc.

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SLOVAKIA

Information current as of 09 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
The legislation implementing the EU Whistleblowing Directive was submitted to parliament on 11 November 2022 (the “Proposal”). The Proposal may still be subject to changes. Even though the Directive has not yet been transposed, the Slovak Republic has had whistleblowing legislation since 2015. The current Slovak Whistleblowing Act (the “Effective Act”) has been in place since 2019 with a wide range of obligations for employers, and the overlap with the Proposal is significant.

2. What is the implementation period?
The planned new legislation is to become effective on 1 April 2023 with the exception of some provisions with a proposed effective date of 1 September 2023.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Under the Effective Act, anonymous reporting is permitted. The Proposal provides the protection of an anonymous whistleblower whose identity has subsequently been revealed.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
Under the Effective Act, a fine of up to EUR 2,000 can be imposed for penalising a whistleblower or for breaching the confidentiality of the whistleblower’s identity. Furthermore, a fine of up to EUR 20,000 may be imposed for infringement of the obligations under the Effective Act in the context of the examination of notifications. According to the Proposal, the above-mentioned penalties are to be increased to EUR 6,000 and EUR 30,000.

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SLOVENIA

Information current as of 09 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
The legislation implementing the EU Whistleblowing Directive was submitted to the Slovenian Parliament on 20 October 2022 (the “Proposal”). The Proposal may still be subject to changes, as it is currently in the second reading of the Parliament’s parent working group. Currently, there is no uniform legislation governing whistleblowers. However, Slovenian legislation already regulates the protection of whistleblowers in a rather fragmented manner, with individual provisions in several sectoral laws, such as the Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act, Market in Financial Instruments Act, Criminal Code, Slovenian Sovereign Holding Act, Banking Act, and others.

2. What is the implementation period?
Unknown. The Proposal of the Whistleblowing Protection Act is being adopted in the ordinary legislative procedure, which means that there will be two further readings in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia before the adoption.

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
The Proposal provides the protection of an anonymous whistleblower whose identity has subsequently been revealed. Currently valid legislative acts mostly protect anonymous whistleblowers.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
The Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act provides a fine up to 2,000 EUR for breaching the confidentiality of the whistleblower’s identity. Other acts do not provide penalty provisions. However, according to the Proposal, a fine of up to EUR 6,000 can be imposed for penalising a whistleblower or for breaching the confidentiality of the whistleblower’s identity. The Proposal imposes a fine up to 60,000 EUR for adopting retaliatory action against the whistleblower.

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UKRAINE

Information current as of 05 January 2023

1. Current implementation status
N/A
Whistleblowing regarding corruption matters is regulated by the Law of Ukraine “On Prevention of Corruption” (the “Law”). The Law came into force on 26 October 2014 and has been amended several times since then.

2. What is the implementation period?
N/A

3. Is anonymous reporting permitted?
Under the Law, anonymous reporting is permitted.

4. What is the range of the envisaged sanctions under local law?
A fine in the amount of up to approx. EUR 1,100 together with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for a period of one year can be imposed for the unlawful disclosure of information about the whistleblower, his/her close persons or information that may identify the whistleblower, his/her close persons.
Unlawful dismissal of a whistleblower due to his/her reporting of corruption or corruption-related offenses may lead to a fine up to approx. EUR 1,300. Alternatively, such types of criminal liability such as the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for up to three years or correctional labour for up to two years can be imposed.

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