What to Consider when building a Whistleblowing Framework.
The European Union (EU) has implemented a legal whistleblowing framework to protect whistleblowers and encourage the reporting of misconduct. The Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law, commonly known as the Whistleblower Directive, sets out guidelines for businesses trading in the EU to be compliant.
In December 2023 the amount of companies that are captured by the directive increased as the EU brought firms with 50 or more employees into the regulations.
Do you need to be compliant?
If you trade in the EU you do. Contact us today to implement your system, gain compliance and avoid a large fine.
What are the key elements of a good legal framework for whistleblowing in the EU:
- Broad scope: The legal whistleblowing framework should cover a wide range of sectors and areas, including public procurement, financial services, consumer protection, environmental protection, public health, and more. This ensures that whistleblowers are protected when reporting various types of misconduct.
- Confidentiality and anonymity: Whistleblowers should have the option to report anonymously, and their identities should be kept confidential throughout the process, including during investigations and legal proceedings. The framework should include safeguards to prevent the disclosure of their identities without their consent.
- Non-retaliation provisions: The legal framework should explicitly prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers. It should ensure that whistleblowers are protected from any adverse actions, such as dismissal, demotion, harassment, or discrimination, as a result of their disclosures.
- Reporting channels: The framework should establish secure and accessible reporting channels for whistleblowers. This can include both internal reporting mechanisms within organisations and external reporting options to competent authorities or designated bodies. Whistleblowers should be provided with clear information on how and where to report misconduct.
- Independent authorities: The legal whistleblowing framework should designate competent authorities responsible for receiving, assessing, and investigating whistleblower reports. These authorities should have the necessary independence, resources, and expertise to handle reports effectively and impartially.
- Remedies and protection: Whistleblower protection should include effective remedies for whistleblowers in case of retaliation or harm suffered as a result of their reporting. This can include reinstatement, compensation, and other appropriate measures. Whistleblowers should also have access to legal assistance and support throughout the process.
- Training and awareness: The legal framework should promote awareness and training programs to educate employees, employers, public officials, and the general public about whistleblowing rights and obligations. Such programs can help foster a culture that values and supports whistleblowing.
- Cooperation and information sharing: The legal framework should encourage cooperation and information sharing among member states to address cross-border cases of misconduct. It should facilitate the exchange of relevant information and coordination between competent authorities to ensure effective investigations and follow-up actions.
- Safeguards against abusive reporting: The legal framework should include provisions to prevent malicious or false reporting. Adequate safeguards should be in place to discourage the misuse of whistleblower protections while still ensuring genuine concerns are heard.
- Continuous evaluation and improvement: The legal whistleblowing framework should establish mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of whistleblower protection measures. It should allow for periodic reviews to identify areas for improvement and address emerging challenges.
Implementing a comprehensive legal framework that encompasses these elements can provide a strong foundation for whistleblower protection in the EU, encouraging individuals to come forward, fostering transparency, and safeguarding against wrongdoing.