Articles

New obligations of employers pursuant to the Act on the protection of whistle-blowers of unlawful activities

by Andrea Vrbovská

The Act No. 54/2019 Coll. on the protection of whistle-blowers of unlawful activities („Act“), which repealed preceding Act No. 307/2014 Coll., came into force on 1 March 2019. In light of its adoption, changes such as the duties of the employers in the area of the internal verification of notifications system took place (notifications were previously marked as submissions). The employer must comply with their internal system (as well as the internal document governing internal verification of notifications system) with respect to the below mentioned until 30 September 2019.

The internal verification of notifications system is obligatory for employers with 50 or more employees. Subsequently, employers with less than 50 employees, may fulfil the below mentioned duties on a voluntary basis.   

Within the system of verification remains an obligation to appoint a so-called responsible person (“RP”), who fulfils the duties of the employer in the area of the internal verification of notifications system. The RP may be an employee or a third person. In cases where the RP is not an employee, the employer and the RP shall enter into an individual contract.

The Act introduces an obligation of the employer to appoint a RP who is professionally competent to perform duties of the RP. The professional competence is not specified by the Act, however, it shall serve as an assurance that the RP is capable to perform his duties effectively, reliably and duly. Pursuant to the Act, the RP is expressly entitled to perform other duties and tasks and the employer shall in such cases prevent any conflict of interests.  

The employer shall adhere to new duties and limitations pursuant to the Act:

  • duty to ensure independent performance of the RP obligations;
  • prohibition to punish the RP with respect to the performance of his obligations;
  • duty to provide the RP with the necessary cooperation for a performance of his duties (mainly via provision of devices, access to the personal data and documents);
  • duty to maintain the professional competence of the RP;
  • duty to facilitate submission of the notifications;
  • duty to disclose information on the internal verification of notifications system in a brief, comprehensive and precise way and easily accessible form; and
  • duty to adopt adequate measures of technical and organizational character in order to ensure and prove that the internal verification of notifications system is in compliance with the Act (with respect to the actual knowledge attained, costs of the measures and purpose of the internal system). 

 

Under the Act, the employers are entitled to verify the notifications via a referral pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code or other individual acts. In such cases, the RP shall request the results of such referral (in an extent allowed by the individual act) and within 10 days of delivery of such results inform the whistle-blower thereof.

With respect to the above mentioned, it is possible to conclude, that the new Act mainly emphasises the professionality and independence of the RP verifying the notifications, and this is also reflected in the additional duties of the employer.   

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