By Dimitrios Aineias Spiliotis, LL.B
Greek National Law 4990/2022 on the protection of persons reporting violations of EU Law, establishes specific regulatory compliance requirements for all businesses. Prior to the entry into force of Law No. 4990/2022, the Greek legal order limited the protection of public interest petitioners to the protection of public interest witnesses in criminal proceedings under Articles 47 and 218 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The implementation of Law 4990/2022 applies to all employers, but the establishment of a communication channel system and the appointment of a Receipt and Monitoring of Reports Officer (MRRO) are required for companies with more than 50 employees.
Businesses with more than fifty (50) employees must comply with the requirement to establish an internal reporting channel by December 17, 2023, and notify the Labor Inspectorate of the appointment of a DPO within two (2) months of compliance.
Companies must comply immediately, and the proper organization of reporting channels protects them.
The existence of reporting channels:
- Contributes to the disclosure of violations affecting a company’s interests.
- protects the company’s reputation.
- Increases the trust of customers, suppliers, and partners.
- Attracts indirect investors and improves a company’s viability.
- Increases the attractiveness of top human resources.
The law requires all covered businesses to establish a whistleblowing system with comprehensive protections as well as a policy for reporting legal violations and other misconduct. Businesses must also educate employees on how to use the hotline and the importance of not retaliating.
The law does not explicitly encourage anonymous whistleblowing, but it does state that if the identity of an anonymous whistleblower is later discovered, that person is entitled to the same whistleblower protections as any other whistleblower.
Complainants may submit their reports in writing, orally, or in person, and the company must keep a record of each report submitted.
The law also prohibits any form of retaliation against whistleblowers, including harassment, pay cuts, withholding of promotion, cancellation of anticipated employment contracts, and so on. Individuals who knowingly make false reports or public disclosures, on the other hand, face a minimum of two years in prison and a fine.
Complainants who believe they have been retaliated against are entitled to free legal advice and compensation if their allegations are proven true.
Companies that fail to implement the required whistleblower program face fines ranging from €10,000 to €500,000, while individuals who obstruct or attempt to obstruct reporting, retaliate, or initiate malicious proceedings against petitioners and breach the confidentiality of petitioners’ identities face imprisonment and a fine.