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Speed it up - Polish whistleblowing law

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We'll get started with good news: an ad hoc law on whistleblowing in Poland is expected to appear (even though the exact time is indefinite), so we can't wait to analyze it and see the changes it brings. While the Act on Transparency of Public Life hasn't entered into force, there is still a lot to talk about.



Some background


Poland has a relatively low level of corruption: it didn't improve for a few years but keeps a position of 36th among 180 countries discovered. It is still far from perfect: the evidence of it is specific legislation for the financial sector that should ensure transparency of its operations. 

It is a quite common practice to protect the financial sector in the first place (you can check a similar example of Germany) — in Poland it is done with the Banking Law and the Financial Instruments Trading Act. All the entities covered by these laws are obliged to implement a whistleblower hotline: however, there is no single set of criteria regarding it.

As a general approach, the employer should consider the protection of the processed data (compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act), ensure confidentiality measures, and rely on European standards of compliance. All the initiatives regarding whistleblowing are encouraged within companies and are inevitable (soon the implementation of the hotline will be an obligation).


Where to blow the whistle?


It's a reasonable question from the employee of a non-financial or private entity that has no direct answer. It is the burden of the employee to find proof of unfair dismissal, choose an overarching authority, and handle the consequences of speaking out. There is no specifically assigned entity for processing whistleblowers' requests.

Old street in Krakow

Violation of human rights, physical damage, unfair dismissal, and others can be compensated by the employer only after the judicial process (the whole proceeding requires certain persistence from the whistleblower). Another problem is that different authorities are in charge of particular crimes, so the investigation will be prolonged (it can take months).


Why so long


It's too early to make any conclusions about freedom of speech in Poland since the implementation of an ad hoc law on whistleblowing has been significantly delayed. The draft bill was introduced in 2017, it should have been implemented in the second half of 2019 (which is coming to an end). According to the new EU legislation, all countries-members of the EU should establish whistleblower laws by the end of 2021 — most likely Poland will follow this scenario and will be one of the latest. 

Not all governmental entities are interested in the new order and even oppose the law, such as the Ministry of Labour — that's the reason for the current 'draft' version of the legislation. For now, the Polish whistleblowing system is not comprehensive at all: waiting for future updates!