site.btaWhistleblowers Protection Act Amended on First Reading
Bulgaria's National Assembly on Thursday voted, 112-53 with 4 abstentions, to pass on first reading amendments to the Act on Protection of Persons Submitting Alerts or Disclosing Information to the Public.
Under the revisions, the rights and obligations of employees and employers under the law will be without prejudice to their right to consult representative or trade-union organizations and their right to conclude collective agreements.
The amendments abolish the two-year time limit for the initiation of proceedings from the commission of the breach. Receipt of the alert will be confirmed to the whistleblower within seven days, and the information will be transmitted promptly to the relevant competent institutions, the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee wrote in its report on the bill.
Implementing the requirements of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law, the possibility to share resources as regards the receipt of reports and use an internal reporting channel will be limited to companies with 50 to 249 workers, and companies having more than 50 employees will be subject to the obligation to establish internal reporting channels. The draft legislation also makes it possible to document an alert by making a recording of the conversation when the reporting is oral and entitles whistleblowers to choose the reporting method and channel, the report says.
The bill proposes arrangements to ensure the legal protection of whistleblowers and full compensation for damage suffered by them, including actions for reinstatement in the event of dismissal, restoration of a cancelled permit, licence or contract. The amending bill also streamline the administrative penalty provisions of the Act, the movers point out.
During the debate, Tsveta Rangelova MP of Vazrazhdane argued that the abolition of the prescription will make it it possible to withhold the information and make it public "at the right time". She commented that the prescription is institutionalized in Bulgarian legislation by the Administrative Sanctions and Penalties Act. Rangelova and Tsoncho Ganev of the same parliamentary group said that the passage of the bill "foments talebearing".
Smilyana Nitova-Krasteva MP of BSP for Bulgaria said that her parliamentary group will also deny support to the bill. "The provisions that are moved to use will not be working and even less so functioning," she argued. "When we implement the EU directive we should know whether we will not give rise to other problems," the Socialist MP said, adding that "there are not guarantees of the rights of persons who are subject to whistleblowing. These rules will create more problems than they are supposed to address."