The Romanian Whistleblowing Law has entered into force on the 22nd of December 2022

Law no. 361/ 2022 on the protection of public interest whistleblowers (the “Whistleblowing Law”) was published in the Official Gazette of Romania on the 19th of December 2022 and has entered into force on the 22nd of December 2022, when appropriate internal reporting channels and whistleblowing guidelines became mandatory for private companies employing 250 or more employees.

Some of the main challenges and obligations companies will face in the upcoming months include:

  • All private companies with at least 250 employees (as well as public institutions) will have to identify or implement internal reporting channels and appropriate whistleblowing guidelines. Such reporting channels can include hotlines, digital platforms or similar, as long as at least one reporting channel remains available at any given moment; 
  • For companies employing between 50 and 249 employees, the obligation to implement proper reporting channels is postponed until the 17th of December 2023 – whistleblowing guidelines remain, however, mandatory as of the 22nd of December 2022;
  • Appointment of an internal whistleblowing responsible remains mandatory, should the registration and management of whistleblowing reports not be delegated to specialised service providers;
  • Anonymous whistleblowers benefit from the same legal protection, while anonymous whistleblowing reports are to be registered and managed in the same way as nominal ones;
  • The Whistleblowing Law impacts employee relations, while introducing the right of a whistleblower to be represented in disciplinary investigations following a whistleblowing report by a lawyer, appointed free of charge by the Romanian Bar Association. Moreover, upon request of the whistleblower, participation of union representatives and/ or press members to such disciplinary investigation becomes mandatory;
  • The Whistleblowing Law reinforces the prohibition of any retaliation measures against the whistleblower, while court decisions issued with regard to illegal retaliation could be published on the company website and in the press, upon decision of the court;
  • Whistleblowing registers to be kept for a period of five years and statistics on incoming whistleblowing reports become mandatory for companies subject to the obligation of implementing internal reporting channels;
  • Whistleblowing remains the most effective method for detection of occupational fraud cases, while an estimated 43% of all fraud cases are revealed through whistleblowing tips, thus leaving companies exposed to tremendous legal and reputational consequences.

Private companies are recommended to assess their compliance with the Whistleblowing Law in terms of guidelines, reporting channels and report management procedures, as soon as possible, while specialised legal assistance is highly recommended in order to ensure a proper transition to new regulations.

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