The best time for reform is… NOW| Croatia

The time when Croatian protection was called weak, non-comprehensive and just not EU-member level is almost in the past. The reason for it is a new law, which came into force in July 2019. 

All the previous evaluations of whistleblowing regulations in Croatia can be therefore considered irrelevant.

How the situation will change in the future, no one knows, but it is a step forward to the common European Parliament Directive passed in April 2019.

What was it like before?

Different parts of Croatian legislation were supposed to cover one of the stages of whistleblowing; certain limitations could be seen if there was no specific law.

No rewards for whistleblowers, no feedback on the cases, mostly external procedures of reports and concentration on corruption issues prevented Croatia from the appearance in the list of 'strong protection' countries.

Initiatives of local organizations, such as the Center for Peace Studies, made it possible to pass the law in 2019.

The clock is ticking: what should employers do?

A new law always means some excellent opportunities for people to whom it is aimed and range of responsibilities for those who ensure its work. The situation is quite urgent for employers — the deadline for the full implementation of the law for whistleblowers is March 2020.

To the end of 2019, private and public organizations should create an internal system of compliance following the recommendations mentioned in official papers.

If the company has more than 50 employees (in some countries it's 10!), the employer should:

  • assign a responsible person to receive the complaints;
  • ensure that personal data is protected;
  • act upon the chosen system and give an explanation to the employee regarding the process of investigation;
  • consider that any harmful actions to the employee before the results of the investigation are penalized by law.

Nothing different from existing European law on whistleblowing, but now the time is limited.

If you don't implement a reporting system, be ready to pay up to 6,000 EUR fee.

Waiting for changes

Currently, Croatian results in fighting corruption are not very prominent; it is 60th in the world rating with a middle level of corruption noticed in the public sector.
The situation can be improved by a specified law which the government introduced this year. Now more people can report fraud (3d persons or contract workers included), penalties are legally enshrined. Will it work for Croatia? We will check in 2020.

 

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