May 6, 2022
1 | What is Law no. 93/2021 about?
Specifically, it was created the obligation to implement internal reporting channels and procedures to ensure compliance with the principles underlying the new legal framework.
2 | Who is obliged to set up internal reporting channels?
The subjective scope is comprehensive, including legal persons employing 50 (fifty) or more employees, such as private entities, the State and other public law legal persons.
3 | Which areas are covered?
For this purpose, a reportable infringement consists of any act or omission contrary to EU Law in a wide range of areas, namely:
- Public procurement,
- Financial services and products, anti-money laundering or terrorism financing;
- Product safety and compliance;
- Transport safety;
- Environmental protection;
- Radiation protection and nuclear safety;
- Food and feed safety, animal health and animal welfare;
- Public health;
- Consumer rights;
- Privacy and personal data protection and security of network and information systems;
- Financial interests of the European Union;
- Internal market rules and company taxing;
- Violent and severely violent criminality and organised crime;
- Crimes foreseen in No. 1 of Article 1 of Law no. 5/2002, of 11TH January, establishing measures to combat organised and economic and financial crime.
4 | Which infringements?
The whistleblower protection regime concerns reports of:
- Infringements committed, in progress or whose commission can be reasonably foreseen; and
- Attempts to conceal infringements.
5 | Who is a «Whistleblower»?
Reports are brought by individuals who have obtained such information in the context of their professional activity, including:
- Employees in the private, social, or public sector;
- Service providers, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, or any persons acting under their supervision and direction;
- Shareholders and persons belonging to the board, management, supervisory or auditing bodies of legal persons, including non-executive members;
- Volunteers and interns, paid or unpaid.
6 | Who is protected?
The protection regime is extended:
- To persons who assist, on a necessarily confidential basis, the whistleblowers;
- Those who, due to their connection to whistleblowers, may be a target of retaliation in a professional context, such as colleagues or family members; and
- To legal persons or similar entities owned or controlled by whistleblowers, for which they work or are connected with in a professional capacity.
7 | Requirements for the protection
In order to benefit from the protection conferred, it is necessary that the whistleblower makes a report in good faith and with a serious belief that the information transmitted is true.
8 | Requirements for the implementation of a reporting channel
The internal reporting channels must provide for the secure presentation and follow-up of reports, guaranteeing their integrity and conservation, and preventing unauthorised access.
The channels are managed by professionals specially appointed for this purpose, without prejudice to the possible operation by external agents.
The new law also establishes the mechanisms for the presentation of reports and the procedures and deadlines to be observed by the organisations.
9 | Confidentiality
Confidentiality has to be ensured regarding the identity of the whistleblower – who may, however, remain anonymous –, the persons concerned, and any third party mentioned in the report. The provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation must also be complied with.
10 | Extent of the protection
Without prejudice to special regimes that ensure greater protection, the protection granted to whistleblowers includes the prohibition of retaliation, as any act or omission that, directly or indirectly, in a professional context and motivated by the report, is capable of causing or actually causes damage to the whistleblower, including threats or attempts.
The practice of acts of retaliation dictates an obligation to compensate the whistleblowers, being the following acts presumed to be retaliatory, if practised within 2 (two) years following the report or disclosure:
- Change of working conditions;
- Suspension of the employment contract;
- Negative performance evaluation or negative reference for employment purposes;
- Failure to convert a term employment contract into an permanent one, whenever there were legitimate expectations of such conversion;
- Non-renewal of term employment contract;
- Inclusion in a list, on the basis of a sector-wide agreement, which may lead to the whistleblower not being able to find future employment in the sector or industry concerned;
- Termination of a supply or service contract.
Unless proven otherwise, a disciplinary sanction applied to the whistleblower up to 2 (two) years after the report or disclosure shall also be qualified as abusive.
11 | And in the event of non-compliance?
Without prejudice to the practice of other illicit acts, failure to comply with the new legal framework leads to liability for administrative offences.
12 | When does the diploma enter into force?
Law No. 93/2021enters into force 180 days after its publication, on 18TH June 2022.
About Sérvulo and their services
Sérvulo is a full service law firm, with a presence in several latitudes, recognised for the quality of the legal services it provides.
The requirements associated to this new legal framework vary according to the size of the companies and the nature of the risks to which they are exposed. For this reason, Sérvulo offers an integrated but also individualized approach, to effectively respond to the specific demands of each client and sector.
The Whistleblowing service includes legal assistance in the following areas:
- Establishment of internal whistleblowing systems and policies
- Follow-up and handling of complaints and investigations
- Adaptation of internal policies in place, namely the compliance and risk management policies
- Employee training and preparation of codes of conduct and codes of ethics
For this purpose, the Whistleblowing service has a multidisciplinary and business-oriented team, composed by the following areas: European and Competition (Miguel Gorjão-Henriques and Alberto Saavedra), Litigation and Compliance (Ana Brito Camacho), Employment Law (Rita Canas da Silva), Public Law (Paula Bordalo Faustino), Privacy and Personal Data Protection (Ana Rita Paínho and Inês Sá), Finance & Governance (Inês Palma Ramalho). The team consists of professionals with extensive knowledge and wide experience, focused on providing all the assistance needed on the development of strategies aiming the full compliance with the new legal obligations.
Read more about Sérvulo's whistleblowing services at: www.servulo.com/whistleblowing