Slovakia: Implementation of EU Whistleblowing Directive
Slovakia is currently preparing the implementation of EU Whistleblowing Directive by introducing an amendment to the already existing legislation. The proposed amendment will introduce several changes to Act No. 54/2019 Coll. on Protection of Whistleblowers. So far the amendment has not been debated in the Slovak Parliament and is currently only subject to inter-departmental consultation procedure. It is now clear that the 17 December implementation deadline will not be met. The new changes will be effective as of 1 May 2022.
Definition of whistleblower
The definition of whistleblower will be extended and will cover also:
- persons performing their professional or graduate internship,
- self-employed persons (freelancers),
- close person who is a co-worker of the whistleblower,
- former employees,
- job candidates,
- anonymous individual whose identity has been revealed.
Extended scope of employers
Employers providing the following services will be subject to obligations relating to internal whistleblowing procedures regardless of their headcount:
- financial services,
- transport safety services,
- environmental services.
Such employers will be obliged to determine a so-called responsible person for receiving and assessing anti-social activities reports.
New obligations of the responsible person
The responsible person will be able to perform this function for multiple employers with less than 250 employees.
Additional obligations of the responsible person will be introduced, for instance:
- obligation to confirm receipt of the report within 7 days,
- obligation to maintain confidentiality about the identity of the person against whom the report is directed.
New obligations of the employer
Employers will be obliged to ensure that action is taken against any person obstructing the filing of a report through the internal whistleblowing procedures. Obstruction means also the refusal to accept a report or any other action aimed at complicating or slowing down the reporting process.
Amendments to Internal Whistleblowing Policies
Employers will have to amend their internal whistleblowing policies in order to ensure compliance and address additional legal requirements, in particular:
- training and motivating staff to use the internal whistleblowing procedures,
- adopt measures to eliminate deficiencies identified during the review of reports and communication with the whistleblower,
- adopt measures against the obstruction of reporting.
The new amendment will introduce fines up to EUR2,000 to anyone who:
- threatens to penalize, attempts to penalize or penalizes the whistleblower in connection with reporting through the internal whistleblowing procedures,
- attempts to prevent or obstructs the reporting,
- breaches duty of confidentiality about the identity of the person against whom the report is directed.
The responsible person can face fines up to EUR20,000 if performing its function for multiple employers with more than 250 employees.
If the amendment will be enacted by the Slovak Parliament, the employers will be obliged to harmonize their existing internal policies with new legislation by 1 May 2022.
If you are interested in the elaboration or review of your internal whistleblowing policies or procedures, we will be happy to assist you.