The Greek system does not have an extensive legislative framework regulating whistle-blowing. However, Greek companies incorporate best practices to prevent corruption, money laundering and market abuse.
Law 4254/2014 in section IE includes provisions related to the treatment of whistle-blowers who call attention to behaviors that lead to corruption in the private and public sectors, as well as protections for those who reveal acts of corruption.
In addition, Law 4557/2018 incorporated the provisions of Directive (EU) 2015/849 regarding prevention of the use of the financial system for money laundering or terrorist financing. This ensures that individuals, including employees of the obliged entity, who report suspicions of such activities are protected from hostile action — in particular, adverse or discriminatory employment actions.
Furthermore, Article 39 of Law 4443/2016, which incorporated Regulation (EU) 596/2014 on market abuse, gives the Greek Capital Market Commission authority to protect people working under a contract of employment who report infringements or are accused of infringements against retaliation, discrimination or other types of unfair treatment.
In addition, (Labor) Law 3789/1957 introduced the framework of establishing employees’ internal regulations for companies employing more than 70 people. It provides that an internal regulation may include provisions on discipline for misconduct and a process to protect those reporting misconduct against threats and hostile actions, including termination of employment.
Furthermore, corporations introduce internal policies that supplement the provisions of the employees’ private agreements and provide whistle-blowing processes and protections.
Definition and anonymity
The Greek legal framework does not contain a single definition of the term whistle-blower.
In most cases, whistle-blowers are considered persons bound by an employment relationship with a target entity and therefore facing the risk of being exposed to threats or hostile action — in particular, adverse or discriminatory actions.
Since the general penal rule holds that accused people should be aware of the accusations being raised against them, the anonymity of the whistle-blower is allowed only when the law specifically provides for it.
A whistle-blower may remain anonymous, according to subparagraph ΙΕ.15 of Law 4254/2014, when reporting acts of corruption both in the private and public sectors.
In addition, an employer’s internal regulation may provide for the anonymity and protection of the whistle-blower in cases where the violation justifies the right of the employer not to immediately expose the data of the employee who reported the incident.
The competent authorities have the right to introduce measures of protection for whistle-blowers against any hostile acts, specifically those involving unfair treatment, discriminatory employment actions or termination.
In the Greek labor framework, general Article 281 of the Greek civil law holds that any termination that is an act of retaliation by the employer is abusive and, thus, null and void.
Despite the fact that whistle-blowing procedures are not contained in an organized legal framework, it is obvious that Greece is moving in that direction, given its effort to show zero tolerance for corruption.
Country-by-country and EU whistle-blowing rules need to be taken into account in setting the best practices and policies in this growing area of risk, including what an employer must do when faced with a whistle-blower claim, such as whether an investigation is required, protections of the employee who complained of company practices and litigation issues.
Best practice requires companies to take action in advance by creating a hotline and training its employees in ethical behavior.