Tuesday, 10 November 2020 16:01

EU Whistleblowing Directive

On 16 December 2019 after its approval by the European Parliament, the Whistleblowing Directive came into force.  The new legislation is seen as a vital legislative cog in attempting to prevent breaches of EU law such as fraud and corruption and providing comprehensive protection for whistleblowers across the whole of the EU.  

Member States are required to transpose the Whistleblowing Directive and to adopt their own version of the directive as national law by 17 December 2021.  As a minimum, the national laws must include all the whistleblower protections listed in the EU directive, although countries do have some flexibility for including more protections if they so wish.  For example, Member states can decide on how they wish to handle anonymous reporting, or whether in certain scenarios to give financial rewards to whistleblowers who report matters to their Government.

The Directive includes new rules that will impact thousands of businesses in both the public and private sectors including small and medium sized enterprises with 50 or more employees.   

The adoption of safe and secure reporting channels is a primary objective of the Directive and is explicit in specifying that such channels should be designed, established and operated in a secure manner that ensures the confidentiality of the identity of the whistleblower and any third party mentioned in the report is protected. 

In order to comply with the Directive businesses are also required to include:

  • An acknowledgment of receipt of the report to the whistleblower within no more than seven days of receipt.
  • The designation of a competent impartial person or department for following up on the reports, and maintaining communication, asking for further information and providing feedback to the whistleblower.
  • Diligent follow-up of the report by the designated person or department.
  • Diligent follow-up of anonymous reporting - where provided for in national law.
  • Introduce measures to protect whistleblowers from dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation
  • A reasonable timeframe for providing feedback to the whistleblower about the report follow-up, not exceeding three months from the acknowledgment of receipt.
  • Clear and easily accessible information regarding the conditions and procedures for reporting externally to competent authorities.

With less than half of all EU countries having whistleblower protection legislation in place., thousands of businesses will need to implement new or revised whistleblowing processes and policies.  However, whilst it may take some time for EU countries to begin their journey to full compliance, the Directive should ensure businesses will now be working towards putting measures in place.

Implementation of a confidential reporting channel is seen as the first step towards compliance with the Directive.   As leading providers of whistleblowing solutions in Europe, SeeHearSpeakUp can assist in the implementation of whistleblowing services to comply with the changes in EU whistleblowing laws.  

If you would like further information about implementation of an independent external whistleblowing service please follow this link, or alternatively, please contact our sales team on +44(0)1224 625111