Whistleblowing in European Union: legal protections for whistleblowers

A few days ago Transparency International published a report regarding whistleblower protection in the European Union.

According to the report, in 30 percent of 23 surveyed countries no legal protections for whistleblowers exist, or if they do, they are very limited.  Certainly, most readers are now wondering about the place Poland would take in this survey.  We are among the sixteen countries with partial whistleblower protection in place.

Few specialists in the matter remember that fraud risk management was not always as popular in Poland as it has become now.  In the past, organizations used to be reluctant to discuss fraud related topics.  Often, they did not see any need to build fraud reporting channels, explaining that there was no fraud to report or indicating that encouraging employees to work as ‘secret informers’ would raise a negative response.  Most employees on various organizational levels used to label those brave enough to whistleblow spies or informers. Therefore, in these past times, whistleblowing was not perceived as anything commendable or worthwhile.

Today, more advanced organizations not only know what is going on inside them, but also manage the cost of fraud and generate substantial savings, thus securing their hard-earned revenue. Also, they can see the benefits of compliance and transparency.  Further, businesses with properly construed fraud risk system that has won employee trust have whistleblowers that are no longer afraid to provide their full name with the report acting upon their internal need fostered by appropriate organizational culture.

Transparency International report indicates that Poland has no legal act that would protect whistleblowers and allowing such fraud reporting. There are certain regulations in place providing certain degree of protection to whistleblowers but without any guarantee that it would work in each and every case.  Please note that there is no judicial practice regarding whistleblower protection in Poland. Additionally, as indicated in the report, it is hard to predict the decision of a court considering various cases.  Polish labour law protects against groundless termination of employment contract if an employee lodges a justified claim in the Labour Court.  Whistleblowers are not guaranteed protection of their personal data, and the whistleblowing action may still be negatively perceived in various communities.

We can only hope that Polish jurisdiction will evolve similarly to certain Polish organizations that take due care to obtain quick and correct internal information.

Source: Transparency International, ” Whistleblowing in Europe. Legal protections for Whistleblowers in EU ”, November 2013

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