New Whistleblowing Act creates obligations for businesses in Slovakia

On 16 October 2014, Slovak Parliament approved the Act on Several Measures Relating to Reporting of Serious Anti-Social Activity and on Amendments and Supplements to Certain Laws, referred to as the Whistleblowing Act.

The Act shall enter into force on 1 January 2015. The most significant news brought by the Act are as follows:


Obligations of the businesses

Every employer which employs at least 50 employees is obliged to introduce an internal system of reporting of serious anti-social activity, including the establishment/appointment of a separate organizational unit or person responsible for the internal reporting system (this can also be an external contractor not employed with the employer).

At the same time, an employer employing at least 50 employees is obliged to adopt an internal regulation determining details of filing and investigation of reports on committing serious anti-social activity, powers of the responsible person, protection of confidentiality over the identity of the whistleblower, registry of reports, notification of results of the investigation to the whistleblower, and processing of personal data mentioned in the report.

Employers are obliged to comply with these obligations within 6 months from the date of entry into force of the Act, i.e. until 1 July 2015.

The Labour Inspectorate may impose a fine up to EUR 20,000 on the employer who fails to comply with some of these obligations. An administrative fine up to EUR 500 may be imposed on a person who fails to fulfil his/her obligations during an inspection conducted by the Labour Inspectorate.


Protection in criminal and administrative proceedings

A whistleblower who reports one of the so-called “serious anti-social activities” to the criminal authorities (in case of criminal offences) or the administrative agency (in case of administrative offences) may request protection.

The employer may perform a legal act or issue a decision in employment relationship towards the protected whistleblower, with which the employee does not agree, only upon prior consent of the Labour Inspectorate, otherwise it is void. The consent of the Labour Inspectorate is not required for decisions on granting of a right, or for acts relating to termination of employment as a result of objective circumstance not subject to consideration of the employer.


Suspension of effects of a labour law act

A person who filed an internal report to the employer, and towards whom an employer’s act with which he/she does not agree was made, may ask the Labour Inspectorate to suspend the effects of such labour law act.

The same possibility is available to a person who filed an internal report to an employer which does not employ at least 50 employees, and is, therefore, not obliged to introduce the internal reporting system, a person who filed an internal report to an employer which did not create the internal reporting system despite being obliged to do so, a whistleblower whose protection expired due to closing of criminal or administrative proceedings, until the termination of his/her employment, and a whistleblower who obtained a written confirmation that he/she is a whistleblower, until the termination of his/her employment.

The employer may require the suspension within 7 days from the day he/she learned about the act. In case of a reasoned suspicion that the act was performed in connection with the report, the Labour Inspectorate shall suspend the effects of the act without delay, and shall notify the employer and the employee. Suspension of effects shall end after 14 days from the delivery of the notification. However, the employee may, in this period, deliver an application for preliminary injunction to the competent court, in such case, the suspension shall be extended until the decision of the court on the preliminary injunction becomes effective.


Other important news

Serious anti-social activity subject to the Act includes (i) criminal offences of harming the financial interests of the EU, machinations in public procurement and public auction, abuse of the powers of public officer, obstruction of the task by the public officer, and corruption (acceptance of bribe, bribery, indirect corruption, electoral corruption), (ii) criminal offences with the upper imprisonment rate exceeding three years, and (iii) administrative offences with the upper amount of fine exceeding EUR 50,000.

The Ministry of Justice may grant a reward up to fiftyfold of the minimum wage to the whistleblower, provided that the decision in criminal proceedings convicting the person for criminal offence, or the decision in administrative proceedings proving the administrative offence, entered into force. The whistleblower and the person to whom protection was granted are also entitled to free legal assistance.