According to Act XXV of 2023 (Complaints Act), companies employing more than 50 employees must have an internal whistleblowing system in place from 17 December 2023. In this system, various misuses can be reported by any employee (the law defines these broadly, since former, current or prospective employees, trainees, volunteers are also considered employees, and employees who are not employed on the basis of an employment relationship, but work in an agency or business relationship).
Misuse is information about an act or omission or other abuse that is or is suspected to be unlawful. Misuse is therefore an act or omission that causes harm, such as trade secret infringement, sexual harassment, money laundering, undeclared employment. More common misuses however, include direct remote transfers, unconventional work schedules, or even denial of an obvious promotion/bonus.
The whistleblower may submit its report under his/her name or anonymously in writing or orally. The investigation of a named report must be started within 8 days, while an anonymous report is not required by law to be investigated (however, the employer may decide to investigate all reports, including anonymous reports).
It is important for employers to know that reports and complaints must be investigated impartially. This impartiality required by law means that the person investigating the reports cannot be biased or perform any other function or job that would be incompatible with the investigation of misuses. Positions whose primary role is to represent and enforce the interests of employers (e.g. HR, compliance team, legal advisers, management) are considered incompatible.
One solution to this conflict of interest problem is to hire a whistleblower protection lawyer who ensures an impartial and professional investigation of the report, but the law also imposes strict requirements for this, according to which:
A whistleblower protection lawyer cannot be a generally appointed attorney of the company, nor a lawyer with whom the company has had any other business relationship in the last 5 years.
The lawyer must report his assignment to the competent bar association and can only claim remuneration from the company in connection with this whistleblowing activity.
The assignment of the whistleblower protection lawyer can only be terminated with a reason, which cannot be based on the observance of the procedure according to the law.
If your company is required by law to operate a whistleblowing system or you are looking for a whistleblower protection lawyer in connection with it, feel free to contact our law firm at the contact details provided so that we can help your company plan and professionally implement the investigation process.