Poland – Human rights defenders
2017-2020 NATIONAL ACTION PLAN
Pillar I: The state’s duty to protect human rights
5. Planned changes in national legislation
Regulations on so-called whistle-blowers [page 25]
Efforts to regulate the position of so-called whistle-blowers will continue. Without changes in the sphere of the law and awareness, it will not be possible to realistically improve the situation of people who reveal abusive practices in Poland. Legislative work is currently under way at the Ministry of Justice with regard to regulations on the protection of whistle-blowers in Poland. It is also necessary to launch a broad social campaign due to the low level of social awareness of whistle-blowing and the role it plays in the public interest.
On 10 April 2017, a pilot programme called ‘Sygnaliści’ (Whistle-blowers) was initiated by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. Anyone may report suspected anti-competitive agreement or abuse of a dominant position by a business on a dedicated telephone number or by email. This information can be submitted anonymously, and officials have no intention of determining the identity of the whistle-blower. However, there is a need to address the legal issues related to the status of whistle-blowers in a systematic way, and to protect them from possible negative consequences from the parties whose infringements they have reported.
2021-2024 NATIONAL ACTION PLAN
|4. Ministry of Family and Social Policy
Protection of whistleblowers. Implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law
Pursuant to Order No 229 of the Prime Minister of 1 December 2020, (Official Journal of the Republic of Poland ‘Monitor Polski’, item 1112), the Minister responsible for labour has been appointed to carry out legislative work at the governmental stage to implement Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law.
The following measures are planned:
1. 1) Introduction of general standards for whistleblower protection systems in every workplace, organisation, office, etc., regardless of the prosecutor’s decision in this respect. The matter related to the concept of a whistleblower goes beyond the scope of criminal law and primarily concerns issues related to the protection of labour law and civil law.
2. 2) Continuation of a public campaign on whistleblowing, which will make it possible to reach the largest possible group of persons employed in both the private and public sectors.
3. 3) The need to change the status and definition of a whistleblower, mirroring the solutions adopted in the European legislations. The status of a whistleblower should be granted by virtue of the law itself, eliminating the need for the prosecutor to grant the status of a whistleblower (resulting in the creation of a quasi-witness institution in the proceedings). The primary function of a whistleblower should consist in acting in the public interest by disclosing – in good faith – all irregularities and threats in the workplace (not only corruption-related), while enjoying statutory legal protection for such activity. – page 22
14. Office of Competition and Consumer Protection
The ‘Whistleblowers’ programme will be continued. Since December 2019, an option has been made available to report irregularities through a special online platform that ensures complete anonymity, available at: https://report.whistleb.com/pl/uokik.
In principle, the aim of the aforementioned programme is to obtain information that is potentially inaccessible to the public (to which access may be obtained, for example, by persons remaining within the organisational structure of the entrepreneur whose actions infringe the competition law). The aim of the ‘Whistleblowers’ programme is to obtain valuable information otherwise difficult to obtain, which may indicate anti-competitive arrangements made by entrepreneurs, while maintaining security and full anonymity of the persons who provide it.
The changes in the functioning of the ‘Whistleblowers’ programme described above were primarily dictated by the necessity to ensure – mentioned above – full anonymity of the Whistleblowers, as well as the need to focus potential Whistleblowers on providing information that is valuable from the point of view of the Office. It was not possible to provide the aforesaid support in transmitting information via e-mail or the hotline. The WhistleB platform guarantees Whistleblowers the highest level of protection and anonymity. If the notifiers themselves do not provide their data – it is impossible to identify them. Moreover, it should be pointed out that personal data provided by Whistleblowers are not made available to external entities. The connection between the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, the application and the Whistleblower is encrypted and password-protected. Metadata are automatically removed from the files attached. Therefore, the IP of the notifier’s computer cannot be determined. The provider of the above-mentioned tool does not have access to the content placed on the platform. Access to information is two-step, and only a designated group of persons employed in the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection have access passwords. – page 40/41