The Law on Protection of Whistleblowers and Government Regulation No. 1133 on Implementation of the Law have taken effect and require both public and private employers with 50 or more employees to have an internal channel for whistleblowing reporting, such as a phone number, email address, or communications app. They are also required to appoint a competent person to investigate reports, inform employees about the procedures of investigation, and ensure the confidentiality and protection of the whistleblower.
Any employee or other person related to the employer through a contractual relationship may submit a report regarding a breach that endangers or violates the public interest (e.g., those related to public safety, health, financing of illegal activities, illegally acquired assets).
The government encourages whistleblowers to report wrongful actions; as such, it offers rewards for valuable information. However, the government may refuse to pay a reward if the employer had properly implemented an internal channel and the whistleblower failed to file the report internally before reporting the breach to the government.
The law requires employers to appoint a competent person (or group of persons) or hire a company to administer the channel and adopt the internal procedures for investigating reports and familiarizing employees with those procedures. Moreover, employers are obligated to communicate certain information, including the identity of the appointed competent person(s), his or her contacts, and applicable investigation procedures on their website or through other means.
Employers must also ensure the confidentiality of reports and protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Whistleblowers may file reports directly with the government if they feel that their employers will not protect them.
Having a dedicated channel and proper reporting procedures will help employers to avoid false accusations and the involvement of government authorities when dealing with whistleblowing issues. Moreover, fines for noncompliance with the requirements of the law, which vary from EUR 140 to EUR 4,000, can be imposed personally on managers and other responsible people involved.
Written by Vytautas Šilinskas of TGS Baltic and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins
© 2019 TGS Baltic and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.