Law on the protection of whistleblowers in the public interest
Law no. 361/2022 on the protection of whistleblowers in the public interest ("the Law") was published in the Official Gazette, Part I no. 1218 dated 19.12.2022. The law entered into force on 22.12.2022.
The Law transposes in the local/national framework the 2019/1937 EU Directive on "whistleblowing".
1. What are whistleblowers?
The whistleblower is any individual who files a report or publicly discloses information related to violations of the law, obtained in a professional context.
Pursuant to the legal provisions, professional context represents/means any professional activity, current or previous, remunerated or not, performed within public institutions or authorities or other public law entities, as well as within private law entities, from where individuals can obtain information about violations of the law and can suffer reprisals in case of reporting them.
2. Which entities are governed by the law?
The law establishes the obligation to identify or establish internal reporting channels, as well as the regulation of reporting procedures for:
- Public or private entities that have at least 50 employees and their structures with no juridical personality that have at least 50 employees,
- Entities that have less than 50 employees and are included in the scope of the normative acts listed in Annex 3 of the Law.
3. What are the obligations of the entities concerned?
According to the provisions the Law, the following obligations have been established for the concerned entities:
- the designation of an individual / department / third party (designated third party) with duties regarding the receipt, registration, examination, and settlement of reports.
- the implementation of internal channels for receiving reports.
- establishing internal reporting procedures.
- the obligation to provide information to the whistleblower regarding the status of the report.
- ensuring confidentiality regarding the protection of the identity of the whistleblower, the person concerned, and the third parties referred to in the report.
4. What is the compliance deadline?
For entities in the public or private sector that have more than 249 employees, the Law establishes the obligation to comply with the new provisions starting from the date of its entry into force (22.12.2022), these entities will not be subject to compliance checks prior to the incorporation of the specialized structure within the National Integrity Agency (45 days from the date of entry into force of the Law). Private law entities that have between 50 and 249 employees have the obligation to comply with the new provisions starting with December 17, 2023.
5. How are the entities concerned legally liable?
The violation of the legal provisions attracts the civil, disciplinary, contraventional or criminal liability of the concerned entities.
For non-compliance with the obligations imposed on its recipients, the Law provides contraventional sanctions between 2,000 lei and 40,000 lei (for example, failure to comply with the obligation regarding the implementation of an easily accessible internal reporting channel can be sanctioned with a contravention fine of up to 30,000 lei), if the actions withheld against these entities are not considered crimes, according to the criminal law.