Who is a whistleblower? This is a person who, in the context of his or her employment, draws attention to unfair conduct, corruption and breaches of rules that may harm the public interest (typically damage to the environment, public health, consumer protection and safety or company property).
How does the protection of these whistleblowers and corrupt behaviour work in the Czech Republic? At present, our legal system does not directly provide for such protection and is fragmented into several legal areas. The topic has been dealt with by legislators repeatedly in the past, but no comprehensive regulation has been adopted so far.
But now comes the expected change. The Ministry of Justice has prepared a draft law that addresses the lack of protection for whistleblowers and has sent it to the inter-ministerial comment procedure. The draft law is based on the European Whistleblower Protection Directive, which ensures a high level of protection against retaliation, and Member States have two years to transpose the new rules into their legal systems. This period will expire on 17 December 2021.
Protection against pay cuts, dismissal, discrimination, etc. is to be afforded to these whistleblowers in both the public and private sectors. The Directive makes it mandatory to establish safe and effective channels for reporting in companies with more than 50 employees
and in municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. At the same time, the confidentiality of their personal data will be maintained in accordance with the law.
In addition to this internal corporate notification system, an external notification system will also be in place. There will be an agency within the Ministry of Justice that will conduct a preliminary assessment of a particular case and give the whistleblower confirmation that he or she is entitled to protection.
The bill also introduces two completely new offences in relation to this issue
namely, the offence of retaliation against the whistleblower and the offence of knowingly making a false report. The latter offence is designed to prevent abuse of the law by employees.
Even before the passage of this important law, companies should have already incorporated procedures to protect whistleblowers in their internal processes to ensure the protection of the company. This is an opportunity to turn to the experts. Would you like help in this matter?