Companies must prepare to respect whistleblower rights
Poland has two years to implement the EU Directive establishing safeguards for whistleblower rights. In other words, Polish companies now face a deadline to change their procedures and their mentality alike. This task may prove to be more formidable than adapting to GDPR, and – soon enough – condemning a whistleblower as a snitch may invoke stiff penalties.
According to a recent study by the Stefan Batory Foundation, Poles do not report abuses witnessed by them because they don’t want to be snitches (36%), because cases of this sort are hard to prove (23%) and because reporting abuses entails problems (18%).
This means that a significant number of Poles probably won’t react to an abuse witnessed in their workplace just because they’re afraid to incur social ostracism and trouble later on. In two years’ time, this may change. Companies employing more than 50 people will be bound by law to protect whistleblowers and to ensure that they benefit from complete anonymity. Such protections must extend not only to employees as such, but also to prospective employees, volunteers, interns, shareholders, partners, and members of the Management and Supervisory Boards. Retaliation against a whistleblower will become a criminal offence, and the burden of proof will be shifted on to the perpetrator – it will be incumbent on the employer to prove that it did not harass or ostracise the whistleblower. Whistleblowers who were hounded out of their jobs or suffered other mistreatment will be entitled to seek damages (...)