Guide to Whistleblowing

Contributing Editors

In this new age of accountability, organisations around the globe are having to navigate a patchwork of new laws designed to protect those who expose corporate misconduct. IEL’s Guide to Whistleblowing examines what constitutes a protective disclosure, the scope of regulations across 18 countries, and the steps businesses must take to ensure compliance with them.

Learn more about the response taken in specific countries or build your own report to compare approaches taken around the world.

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01. Which body of rules govern the status of whistleblowers?

01. Which body of rules govern the status of whistleblowers?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The status of whistleblowers is governed by the Whistleblowing Act. The provisions of the Whistleblowing Act comply with European standards since legal requirements arising out of the EU Whistleblower Directive (EU WBD) are implemented therein.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

02. Which companies must implement a whistleblowing procedure?

02. Which companies must implement a whistleblowing procedure?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

Companies with 50 or more employees must establish an internal whistleblowing policy and an internal reporting channel. Companies with less than 50 employees can establish an internal whistleblowing policy and reporting channels at their own discretion or implement a group reporting channel.

Companies with 50-249 employees may develop a joint internal whistleblowing system and reporting channels. This applies to private entities registered and operating in Latvia. This does not extend to entities operating abroad, including group entities (eg, two companies operating in Latvia can establish one joint reporting channel).

Companies, operating in the finance sector, the area of prevention of money laundering, terrorism and proliferation financing, and the areas of transport security or environmental protection must also establish an internal whistleblowing system if they have less than 50 employees.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

03. Is it possible to set up a whistleblowing procedure at a Group level, covering all subsidiaries?

03. Is it possible to set up a whistleblowing procedure at a Group level, covering all subsidiaries?

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Latvia

Latvia

  • at Ellex Klavins
  • at Ellex Klavins

There are no provisions in the Whistleblowing Act that would allow for the setting up of a whistleblowing procedure at a group level.

Based on the guidelines prepared by the State Chancellery (the contact point for whistleblowing in Latvia) and EU WBD, one single group whistleblowing procedure is only allowed if the local entity is not required to have an internal reporting channel (if they have less than 50 employees in Latvia) or if the company has a local internal reporting channel and a group whistleblowing procedure is established in addition to it.

If both whistleblowing procedures exist, employees are allowed to use either procedure. A group procedure on its own is not allowed if the local entity has 50 or more employees.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

04. Is there a specific sanction if whistleblowing procedures are absent within the Company?

04. Is there a specific sanction if whistleblowing procedures are absent within the Company?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

No, there are no sanctions provided in the law if there is no internal whistleblowing procedure or internal reporting channel. The absence of an internal whistleblowing procedure will likely promote the use of other reporting channels, such as:

  • directly approaching the competent public authority that supervises the field or area where the breach occurred,
  • approaching the State Chancellery as the contact point for whistleblowing,
  • reporting publicly, if the requirements provided in the law are met.

To avoid risks associated with the use of external reporting channels, which may result in investigations and sanctions by public authorities, it is advisable to have an internal reporting channel and whistleblowing policy.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

05. Are the employee representative bodies involved in the implementation of this system? 

05. Are the employee representative bodies involved in the implementation of this system? 

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The Whistleblowing Act does not require the involvement of employee representative bodies in implementing the whistleblowing procedure. The involvement of employee representative bodies in the whistleblowing procedures is more consultative.

The Whistleblowing Act provides that trade unions and their associations, as employee representatives bodies: can provide support, including counselling, to whistleblowers to promote whistleblowing and whistleblower protection; provide support, including counselling, to its members concerning whistleblowing; and can apply to a public authority (body) or a court on behalf of a whistleblower who is a member of the trade union.

The Labour Act provides that employee representative bodies have the right to receive information from the employer and consult with the employer concerning the implementation of measures that affect or may affect the employment relationship. Therefore, it is advisable to inform or consult with employee representative bodies (if any) about the implementation of whistleblowing procedures to avoid the risk of administrative liability.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

06. What are the publicity measures of the whistleblowing procedure within the company?

06. What are the publicity measures of the whistleblowing procedure within the company?

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Latvia

Latvia

  • at Ellex Klavins
  • at Ellex Klavins

The Whistleblowing Act does not allow companies to use publicity measures regarding a commenced, pending or finished whistleblowing case. The employer must ensure the confidentiality of information, not only to protect the interests of the whistleblower but also to protect the identity of the perpetrator.

Publicity measures are applied in cases of whistleblowing in public institutions. In such cases, the whistleblower can include in its report whether he or she consents to the results of the investigation being published, if a breach is established.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

07. Should employers manage the reporting channel itself or can it be outsourced?

07. Should employers manage the reporting channel itself or can it be outsourced?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The Whistleblowing Act allows employers to use third-party services for whistleblowing procedures. Therefore, the management of a reporting channel can be organised by outsourcing management service providers. On the other hand, such outsourcing cannot be used to implement group whistleblowing procedures (eg, to use a reporting channel established at a group level or in a related company).

Last updated on 29/07/2022

09. What precautions should be taken when setting up a whistleblowing procedure?

09. What precautions should be taken when setting up a whistleblowing procedure?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The whistleblowing procedure should be established to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Usually, there are one or several employees responsible for the review of whistleblowing reports, or a combination of internal and third-party whistleblowing is used. Companies should avoid situations where, for example, responsible persons might encounter a conflict of interest upon review of whistleblowing reports (ie, if there is no alternative reporting channel and employees would have to report to the perpetrator, who is also the responsible person in the company). In any case, responsible persons who review or analyse whistleblowing reports should be someone with a good reputation and trust in the company.

The principle of data minimisation and confidentiality should be observed throughout the whole procedure.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

10. What types of breaches/violations are subject to whistleblowing?

10. What types of breaches/violations are subject to whistleblowing?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The Whistleblowing Act allows the reporting of any violations related to the public interest, while specific attention is drawn to the following areas in the law:

  • inaction, negligence, abuse of office or other unlawful acts of public officials;
  • corruption, violations of the rules on financing political organisations (parties) and their associations and restrictions on pre-election campaigning;
  • embezzlement of public funds or property;
  • tax evasion;
  • public health threats;
  • threat to food safety;
  • threat to building or construction safety;
  • threat to environmental safety, including actions affecting climate change;
  • radiation protection and nuclear safety;
  • threat to occupational safety;
  • threat to public order;
  • violation of human rights;
  • infringements in the field of public procurement and public-private partnerships;
  • infringements in the financial and capital market sector, including fraud and other illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the European Union;
  • money laundering and the prevention of the financing of terrorism and proliferation;
  • infringements of competition law and business support rules;
  • infringements in the field of the provision of goods and services, including safety and compliance;
  • infringements in the field of transport safety;
  • infringements in the field of the internal market;
  • infringements in the field of animal welfare;
  • consumer protection; and
  • protection of privacy and personal data and security of network and information systems.
Last updated on 29/07/2022

11. Are there special whistleblowing procedures applicable to specific economic sectors or professional areas?

11. Are there special whistleblowing procedures applicable to specific economic sectors or professional areas?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

Latvian law does not provide for special whistleblowing procedures. Whistleblowing is subject to special procedures only in cases where such special procedures are established specifically in law.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

13. Who can be a whistleblower?

13. Who can be a whistleblower?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

Only natural persons, if they comply with the definition of whistleblower as provided in the Whistleblowing Act (please see question 12).

Last updated on 29/07/2022

14. Are there requirements to fulfil to be considered as a whistleblower?

14. Are there requirements to fulfil to be considered as a whistleblower?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

Yes, certain preconditions need to be met:

  • a person must submit a whistleblower’s report;
  • the whistleblower's report must contain information regarding a possible infringement detrimental to the public interest;
  • the information provided in the report must be obtained during the performance of work duties, or during the process of establishment of work relationship, including traineeship or other types of legal relations related to professional activity;
  • the whistleblower’s report cannot be anonymous.

Finally, this whistleblower’s report has to be recognised as such, otherwise the person would lose whistleblower status.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

15. Are anonymous alerts admissible?

15. Are anonymous alerts admissible?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The Whistleblowing Act does not provide such an option, but the company may accept anonymous alerts at its own discretion. However, it should be borne in mind that whistleblower protection is not possible in these cases. If the whistleblower is subsequently identified, he or she is covered by statutory protection, including against adverse consequences.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

16. Does the whistleblower have to be a direct witness of the violation that they are whistleblowing on?

16. Does the whistleblower have to be a direct witness of the violation that they are whistleblowing on?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The Whistleblowing Act is silent on this issue; theoretically, it is not prohibited to whistle-blow about a violation to which the person has not been a direct witness, but in any case information about these violations has to be obtained during the performance of work duties or during an internship.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

17. What are the terms and conditions of the whistleblowing procedure?

17. What are the terms and conditions of the whistleblowing procedure?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

There are no terms provided in the law for the submission of a whistleblower’s report. Nevertheless, the Whistleblowing Act contains a list of information that should be provided in whistleblowers’ reports. These may include a description of the violation and if information about the violation was provided before, as well as reporting channels for whistleblowers’ reports and the procedure for how whistleblowers’ reports should be reviewed.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

18. Is there a hierarchy between the different reporting channels?

18. Is there a hierarchy between the different reporting channels?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

No, there is no hierarchy between the different reporting channels, but there are specific pre-conditions when whistleblowing may be done publicly: mainly, in cases when a whistleblower’s report has not been reviewed or there are reasons to believe that all other reporting channels would not be effective.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

19. Should the employer inform external authorities about the whistleblowing? If so, in what circumstances?

19. Should the employer inform external authorities about the whistleblowing? If so, in what circumstances?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

No. The only exception is if during the investigation of a whistleblower’s report it was discovered that a crime had been committed, then the company must inform the respective state authorities about this fact.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

20. Can the whistleblower be sanctioned if the facts, once verified, are not confirmed or are not constitutive of an infringement?

20. Can the whistleblower be sanctioned if the facts, once verified, are not confirmed or are not constitutive of an infringement?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

An administrative fine may be imposed for knowingly making false statements using a whistleblowing mechanism or making them publicly. The amount of the fine ranges from 30 EUR up to 700 EUR.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

21. What are the sanctions if there is obstruction of the whistleblower?

21. What are the sanctions if there is obstruction of the whistleblower?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

An administrative fine will be imposed if the whistleblower, his or her relative or a related person suffers adverse consequences. Also, there is an administrative liability for obstructing the whistleblowing proceedings. The amount of the fines may range from 15 EUR to 700 EUR for natural persons – and between 35 EUR and 10,000 EUR for legal persons.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

22. What procedure must the whistleblower follow to receive protection?

22. What procedure must the whistleblower follow to receive protection?

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Latvia

Latvia

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The whistleblower must lodge a non-anonymous whistleblower’s report. If the report is not recognised as the whistleblower’s report at a later date, the protection is forfeited.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

23. What is the scope of the protection? 

23. What is the scope of the protection? 

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Latvia

Latvia

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The following protection is provided according to the law:

  • protection of identity;
  • protection against adverse effects resulting from whistleblowing; and
  • exemption from legal liability.
Last updated on 29/07/2022

24. What are the support measures attached to the status of whistleblower?

24. What are the support measures attached to the status of whistleblower?

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Latvia

Latvia

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  • at Ellex Klavins

The following support measures are provided:

  • legal aid provided by the state;
  • exemption from the payment of court costs in civil proceedings and the payment of a state fee in administrative proceedings before a court;
  • interim relief in civil proceedings and administrative proceedings before the courts;
  • appropriate compensation for damages for loss or personal injury, including moral injury;
  • advice on the protection of their rights; and
  • exemption from the obligation to comply with the out-of-court procedure in administrative proceedings.
Last updated on 29/07/2022

25. What are the risks for the whistleblower if there is abusive reporting or non-compliance with the procedure?

25. What are the risks for the whistleblower if there is abusive reporting or non-compliance with the procedure?

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Latvia

Latvia

  • at Ellex Klavins
  • at Ellex Klavins

There is a risk of administrative liability for a knowingly false whistleblower’s report. Also, if there is non-compliance with the procedure, a whistleblower’s report may not be recognised officially, resulting in a risk that protection and supportive measures would not apply to the would-be whistleblower.

Last updated on 29/07/2022