JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic

What would adopting the whistleblower protection bill mean for Serbia?

The intersection of provisions of labour, criminal, company and commercial law, although hard to imagine due to the diversity of these fields, does exist. It becomes most visible in cases of whistleblowing within a company, when the whistleblower draws attention to the existence of corruption or financial fraud in the company in which he or she works. Pointing out irregularities in company operations, embezzlements or corruptions — drawing attention to committed frauds — triggers a number of consequences for the whistleblower, from criminal to socio-economic, and can even drive the whistleblower to financial ruin. Losing his or her job is a consequence frequently suffered by anyone daring to report irregularities.

Employers, however, are well aware of the fact that reporting irregularities is not a legal cause for termination, so they often resort to fabricating causes for termination and usually quickly remove the whistleblower from the work environment, as practice has shown (the pattern is the same in both public and private companies). Moreover, instead of a regular termination procedure, planned harassment at work frequently starts to occur after the whistleblowing, both horizontal (by peers, usually upon covert instructions from the director) and vertical (directly by the whistleblower’s superior). Both cases are a direct, clear and unconcealed violation of the whistleblower’s rights, by direct or indirect discrimination. To reduce such cases to a minimum, it is essential to have a clear and well-defined legal framework, with strict rules, structured in the spirit of the criminal doctrine, to regulate the issue at hand.

It should be mentioned that Serbia is among those countries struggling with corruption, although a mild improvement from past years has been observed. According to the latest Transparency International report for 2013, Serbia is 72nd of the 177 counties included in the list. Index 42 assigned to Serbia indicates the current level of corruption. If a country is assigned index 100, that means that corruption is practically non-existent. Denmark is in first place in the EU, with index 91, while of EU countries Serbia could be compared to Greece, which has similar ranking…

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