EU Whistleblowing Directive
How does it look like and what firms should do... with free desk-aid.
The EU Whistleblowing Directive is a legislative measure designed to encourage transparency, integrity, and accountability within both public and private sectors across EU member states. The directive establishes a framework for protecting whistleblowers, which is crucial for facilitating the reporting of illegal activities, corruption, and other misconduct. According to the EU Commission, a whistleblower is defined as "a persons who reports (within the organisation concerned or to an outside authority) or discloses (to the public) information on a wrongdoing obtained in a work-related context, helping prevent damage and detecting threat or harm to the public interest that may otherwise remain hidden."
The directive sets out clear rules and procedures for reporting and handling whistleblower complaints, and it applies to both public and private sector organizations.
One of the key features of the new directive is the requirement for all EU member states to establish a safe and confidential reporting channel for whistleblowers. This means that organizations will be obliged to provide a secure and anonymous way for employees to report concerns, such as a dedicated email address or hotline. It also means that whistleblowers will be protected from retaliation or discrimination, including dismissal or demotion, and that they will be entitled to legal support and compensation if necessary.
Another important aspect of the directive is the broad definition of what constitutes a whistleblowing complaint. The directive covers a wide range of issues, including corruption, bribery, fraud, money laundering, and breaches of environmental, health and safety, and data protection laws. It also includes issues related to public procurement and the use of EU funds.
In addition, the directive requires that all organizations with 50 or more employees establish an internal whistleblowing system. This means that companies will need to have policies and procedures in place to manage whistleblower complaints effectively and to ensure that they are handled in a timely and appropriate manner.
How does it impact UK firms?
The EU whistleblowing directive also includes provisions for cross-border whistleblowing, which means that employees who work in one EU country but report concerns related to another country will be protected. This is an important development, as it means that whistleblowers will no longer be deterred from reporting concerns for fear of reprisals or retaliation. This means that even if the business is not 'based' in an EU member state, it could find itself within scope of the directive due to it having workers or offices in states under the Directive's jurisdiction. Such businesses must seek guidance on the extent to which the Directive will impact them and take the appropriate steps to be compliant.
The introduction of the new EU whistleblowing directive is a significant step forward in protecting the rights of whistleblowers and promoting transparency and accountability in the workplace. It sends a clear message to organizations that they must take the issue of whistleblowing seriously and establish effective policies and procedures for handling complaints. Ultimately, this will help to create a culture of openness and accountability, which will benefit employees, organizations, and society as a whole.
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