Whistleblowing - update on broadened protection for whistleblowers

11 July 2023 2 min read

By Daniela Koncierova

At a glance

  • As of 1 July 2023, Slovakia introduced significant changes to its existing whistleblowing regulations extending the protection of whistleblowers by transposing Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council, on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law.
  • Where most changes are effective as of 1 July 2023, some provisions will become effective from 1 September 2023.
  • The fines for non-compliance have also increased considerably.

It is also worth mentioning that the recently established Whistleblower Protection Office (which began operations in September 2021) is now focusing on educational activities and raising public and employer awareness of whistleblowing and the protection of whistleblowers. Also, a fine was imposed for the first time this year for a breach of employer´s obligations to inform the whistleblower on the result of the investigation and the measures taken timeously.

Given these recent developments, we recommend reviewing and updating your internal whistleblowing procedures and reporting channels to ensure compliance with the new whistleblowing regulation.

The most important changes under the Slovak Act on Protection of Whistleblowers[1] are summarised below.

Wider protection of whistleblowers

Legal protection is granted to a wider range of relationships than before so not only whistleblowers in employment relationships are protected, but also whistleblowers in other similar relationships, including, for instance, commercial relationships with managing directors or self-employed persons, contractors, interns, volunteers and others, including pre-contractual or post-contractual relationships. Disclosing facts subject to trade secret will not hinder the legal protection of whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers and connected third parties are protected from retaliatory measures taken against them. Such retaliatory measures include dismissal or immediate termination of employment, removal from a role, demotion to junior position, decreasing salary or not awarding bonus, disciplinary action, coercion, intimidation or harassment, among others.

Extended range of employers

As of 1 September 2023, the obligation to appoint a person with internal responsibility and to have an internal reporting system in place will apply not only to employers with more than 50 employees but also to employers providing services in finance, transport safety or environment (even if they have less than 50 employees). In addition to these internal reporting mechanisms, employers with less than 250 employees may also engage an external person with responsibility for verifying whistleblower notifications.

Stricter response periods

The employer must confirm receipt of a report within seven days. The report must be investigated and the whistleblower must be notified of the outcome of the investigation and the measures taken within 90 days from confirming the receipt of the report.

Higher penalties

The Whistleblower Protection Office can impose significant fines up to EUR 100,000 and in cases of repeated breach the fine may be doubled.

If you would like to have your existing whistleblowing regulations reviewed or in case of any further questions with respect to the new whistleblowing legislation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Footnote 1: Act No. 54/2019 on the Protection of Whistleblowers and on the amendment and supplementation of certain laws.