New Whistleblowing Act should improve protection of whistleblowers
In addition to modifying the whistleblower protection system, the law has also introduced obligations for employers concerning the internal system of notice´s verification.
On 1 March 2019, new Act No. 54/2019 Coll. on protection of whistleblowers and on amendments to certain acts (hereinafter as "Act") became effective and several changes have been introduced by this new piece of legislation.
Office for Whistleblowers´ Protection
The Act establishes the Office for Whistleblowers´ Protection (“Office”) as an independent state administration body performing a role in the whistleblowers´ protection during the reporting of illegal activities, monitoring the implementation of the Act, providing expert opinions and advice and, among other things, raising awareness of whistleblowing. The chairman of the Office will be elected and recalled by the National Council of the Slovak Republic.
Notice of illegal activity
A notice of illegal activity does not need to contribute significantly to revelation of illicit activities. According to with the new legislation, the notice means a statement of facts learned by an individual in connection with performance of his/her employment, profession, position or function or in the context of an activity in public interest relating to the whistleblowing. The criminal offences of legal entities are also deemed illegal activities being subject to the whistleblowing.
The Act specifies that protection of whistleblowers in both criminal and administrative proceedings during the reporting of whistleblowing may be extended its related persons if he/she has the same employer as the whistleblower.
If the protection is not granted to the whistleblower either in criminal or administrative proceedings, the whistleblower may request by himself/herself or via the Office to investigate the grounds refusal by appealing to the superior administrative authority.
The Office may provide the whistleblower, who has performed a qualified notice, by his/her request a reward up to the amount of 50 times the minimum wage.
Internal system of notice´s verification
Under the new legislation, an employer, who is employing at least 50 employees and an employer who is a public authority and employing at least 5 employees is required to designate a responsible person.
The responsible person shall have the professional qualifications required to perform the tasks under the Act, but the professional qualifications are not specified in the Act. The responsible person performs some of the employer's tasks under the Act, in particular: (a) discloses information on the internal system of notice´s verification, (b) receipts and verifies each notice, (c) notifies the whistleblower of the outcomes of resolution of the notice and others.
The employer is also obliged to take appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure and demonstrate that the internal system of notice´s verification is carried out in accordance with the Act.
If the employer fails to perform any obligations arising from the Act, the Office may impose a penalty up to EUR 20,000 on the employer.
In case of questions, do not hesitate to contact Marian Dzuroška, Executive Director at KPMG Legal Services.