The Reporting Persons Protection Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 16/23), which came into force on 22 February 2023, comprehensively and systematically regulates the area of ​​reporting of violations detected in the work environment, and the protection of reporting persons in case of retaliatory measures. enacted by their employer. The law represents the transposition of the Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union Law into the Slovenian legal system.

The law introduced a system of internal and external channels for reporting violations of all regulation in the Republic of Slovenia, of which individuals have become aware in the context of their work environment, as well as protective and supportive measures to prevent or eliminate retaliatory measures that reporting persons receive as a result of their reports.

Internal Reporting Channels

The main innovation is the establishment of an internal reporting channel for legal entities in the public and private sector (approximately 3,000 in total). The general rule is that all entities with 50 or more employees must establish an internal reporting channel. Regardless of the number of employees, the internal route must be arranged by bodies in the state administration, municipalities and independent state bodies of the public sector. The threshold of 10 employees is imposed for legal entities whose main activity is in the field of healthcare and water and waste management.

The internal reporting channel is established by defining at least an email address and a special phone number for receiving reports and appointing a person of trust who will handle these reports. The legal entity regulates this in an internal act, the content of which is prescribed by law, including measures that protect the identity of the reporting person. The law also demands that the legal entity informs all who work in the work environment, i.e. potential whistleblowers, about the existence and possibilities of the internal reporting channel. This can be done by publishing the information on the internal IT system of the legal entity or making the information available on a notice board in the entity's premises.

Internal reports are handled and investigated by appointed persons of trust in an informal procedure which is aimed at eliminating violations internally, where the violations occurred. If the whistleblower is not satisfied with the outcome, they can always submit a report to one of the authorities for external reporting (mainly inspectorates and supervisory agencies, depending on the nature of the violation). The main idea of the law in this regard is that whistleblowers have as many opportunities as possible to report wrongdoings, and that they are entitled to protection if they suffer retaliation as a result of the report.

External Reporting Channels

For external reporting channels, the law relies heavily on an already existing network of various inspectorates and other oversight institutions, so additional reporting channels were introduced in 25 authorities listed in the law (Article 14). The Slovenian Sovereign Holding is included among the external reporting bodies and is responsible for external reports regarding state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The use of internal reporting channel is not a prerequisite for filing a report to the external supervising authority.

Protection of reporting persons against retaliation

If the reporting person receives retaliatory measures from the employer as a result of their report, the law provides protective and support measures:

a) Judicial Protection:

In case of legal disputes, the burden of proof is reversed, i.e. retaliation is a legal presumption and the employers must prove that their act against the whistleblower was not a retaliatory measure. The same stands for interim measures. while the whistleblower is also exempt from paying court fees.

b) Free Legal Aid:

The whistleblower is entitled to free legal aid, notwithstanding their financial circumstances and other conditions that apply in regular cases of free legal aid applications.

c) Unemployment benefit:

If the employer has terminated the reporting person's employment contract and if the reporting person seeks judicial protection, they are entitled to unemployment benefits, notwithstanding the conditions for such benefits set by the law regulating the labour market.

d) Psychological support

For the purpose of applying protective and support measures, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption can issue a certificate of eligibility for protection to the reporting person, de facto giving them whistleblower status.

Protection of the identity of the reporting person

No one may disclose the identity of a reporting person to anyone other than the person of trust and the external reporting body without the reporting person's express consent. This shall also apply to any other information from which the reporting person’s identity may be inferred, whether directly or indirectly. The identity of the reporting person may also be disclosed upon a request from a state prosecutor, if this is strictly necessary for the investigation of criminal offences, or upon a request from the court, if this is necessary for the purposes of judicial proceedings, including judicial proceedings for safeguarding the right of the person concerned.