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Nurses’ and midwives’ whistleblower rights

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has sent a letter to the Administrator of the Provincial Specialist Hospital in Słupsk, responding to the conduct of the hospital’s management who obliged medical professionals working at the facility to sign a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement. In the assessment of the HFHR, such a requirement may be an example of an interference with the freedom of speech and the freedom of association and the right to join labour unions.

The letter reads that the agreement presented to the hospital employees constitutes the employer’s limitation of the freedom of expression enjoyed by employees and labour unions representing employees. The prohibition of expression that results from the document in question is too extensive, the Helsinki Foundation argues. This is because the prohibition extends to all forms of dissemination of any information about the employer, employer’s actions and planned activities that the employee has access to.

“In our statement we also emphasise that in light of the standards of protection of rights of those whistleblowers who report deficiencies in the operation of their work establishments it is necessary to introduce an internal reporting procedure, whose purpose would include protecting reputation of the company”, adds Adam Ploszka, HFHR’s lawyer.

The hospital’s board disagreed with the letter, arguing that “the employer’s expectation of employee loyalty cannot be in any way linked to an interference with rights of employees and labour unions because the obligation of loyalty does not contravene each person’s right to freedom of speech and right to criticise”.

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