The 'Protection of the Whistleblower Act' (the
'Act') which came into force on the 15th September 2013
seeks to make provision for procedures in terms of which employees
in both the private sector and the public administration may
disclose information regarding improper practices committed by
their employers or other employees in the employ of their employers
and to protect employees who make the said disclosures from
The requirement to provide for internal procedures is currently
restricted to any organisation within the private sector which
according to its last annual or consolidated accounts meets at
least two of the following criteria:
an average number of employees, during the financial year, of
more than 250;
a total balance sheet exceeding EUR 43,000,000;
an annual turnover exceeding EUR 50,000,000.
Employers satisfying the above criteria must adopt procedures
for receiving and dealing with information about improper practices
committed within or by that organisation. As a minimum, the
organisation must identify the person/s (referred to as the
'whistleblowing reporting officer') to whom a protected
disclosure would initially be made to. However, the Act grants the
whistleblower the right, in the case of certain circumstances, to
make a disclosure to the head of his organisation or to an external
reporting unit set up within the authorities listed in the Act.
In order to encourage a whistleblower to make disclosures, the
Act provides that the whistleblower's identity is to be kept
confidential unless his express consent in writing is obtained.
This is but one of forms of protection afforded to the
whistleblower, since the Act provides that a whistleblower may not
be subjected to detrimental action on account of having made a
The Act provides an exhaustive list of what action or a series
of actions would be considered to be an improper practice, wherein
a restrictive interpretation should be applied, thus excluding very
minor or trivial matters. An improper practice would arise if:
a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply
with any law and, or legal obligation to which he is subject;
the health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is
likely to be endangered; or
the environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged;
a corrupt practice has occurred or is likely to occur or to
have occurred; or
a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is
likely to be committed; or
a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is
likely to occur; or
bribery has occurred or is likely to occur or to have occurred;
a person abuses of his authority; or
information tending to show any matter falling within any one
of the preceding paragraphs has been is being or is likely to be
A whistleblower will not be afforded the protection granted
under the Act if the disclosure concerns information which he knows
or ought to reasonably know is false; or if a disclosure is made
other than in good faith; or is made for the purpose of personal
gain. Furthermore disclosures of information protected by legal
professional privilege as well as disclosures made anonymously are
not considered to be protected disclosures.
It is expected that regulations for the better implementation of
the Act as well to establish the internal procedures which
employers must have in place for receiving and dealing with
information about improper practices committed within or by an
organisation be published in the near future.
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