You need to ACT NOW to comply with the EU Whistleblower Directive
Companies with more than 250 employees will need to be compliant by the end of 2022. For companies with more than 50 employees, the deadline to comply is 2023. Every European state will transcribe the EU Directive (2019/1937 Article 9) into its own national law.
Who is a whistleblower and who is protected under the EU Directive?
Under Article 4 of the EU Directive, a whistleblower is a “worker”, as well as “self-employed people, shareholders, trainees and volunteers”.
Article 6 of the Directive states that to receive protection, the person reporting a complaint has to have "reasonable grounds to believe the information available to him or her at the time was true" and "had to report the information through the available reporting channels according to the rules and exceptions established by the Whistleblower Directive".
What is the Purpose of the Whistleblower Directive?
The purpose of this Directive is to provide and promote a safe and secure way for people to voice concerns and speak up about any unethical behavior or misconduct in their workplace. This should occur in the form of a confidential channel, that ensures the confidentiality of the reporting person (aka whistleblower) and everyone involved.
Companies are required to
- Assign a person or team responsible to receive and follow up on reports (maximum of a 7-day period for acknowledgment of receipt);
- Inform the employees of the reporting options available to them;
- Put measures in place to protect whistleblowers from dismissal, demotion, and other forms of retaliation;
- Respond to and follow up on reports within three months.
How to report an incident?
Reporting should be conducted in a hierarchal manner and is to follow this order of prioritization:
- Internal channels: Whistleblowers are first encouraged to file a report through an internal channel. This channel should be safe and anonymous and can be self-hosted or provided by a third party;
- External reporting: If the whistleblower, for any reason, feels that an internal reporting channel does not function properly, or they aren’t seeing the result they need, they can resort to external reporting;
- Public Disclosure: If all else fails the last resort is a public disclosure for a whistleblower who does not feel safe and secure within their own company culture. As well, if a whistleblower feels their concern constitutes an imminent danger to the public, the whistleblower can speak up publicly to disclose their concern, and still qualify for protections under the Whistleblower Directive.
Protection against retaliation
One more thing to have in mind is that the Whistleblower will have certain protection against retaliation, including dismissal or a demotion of their role by their employer.
The European Directive also ensures that whistleblowers have access to information and advice relating to legal action taken against them – this is provided free.
Whistleblowers will also receive free legal aid, and financial and psychological support during legal proceedings.
What do you need to do next?
You need to make sure your company is compliant with the Directive by ensuring you have a safe way for your employees to report issues in an anonymous way. In case you want help implementing this safe channel, talk to us!
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