Tuesday, 01 February 2022 09:59

EU Whistleblowing Directive latest - Member states slowly introducing whistleblowing protection laws

All EU Member States were tasked with passing new whistleblowing legislation by 17 December 2021 known as the EU whistleblowing Directive and to adopt their own version of the Directive as their own national law.  

The EU adopted the Directive in 2019 in the aftermath of some high-profile corruption scandals uncovered by whistleblowers such as Panama, LuxLeaks, and the Paradise Papers.  These scandals exposed weaknesses that prevented whistleblowers receiving adequate legal protection when unmasking serious financial irregularities.  Backed overwhelmingly by the EU parliament, the proposed safeguards aim to encourage reports of wrongdoing by protecting whistleblowers from dismissal, demotion, and other detrimental forms of retaliation.

Only a few countries have adopted the new EU whistleblowing Directive

The deadline has passed for adopting the legislation and to date only a small number of countries have adopted:

  • Denmark became the first Member State to implement the Directive on 24 June 2021. The new law passed by the Danish Parliament entered into force on 17 December 2021 and the new Danish laws align with the provisions of the EU whistleblowing Directive.
  • On 29 September 2021 Sweden passed its new Whistleblowing Act becoming the second EU Member State to fully transpose the Whistleblowing Directive.
  • On 26 November 2021 the Portuguese Parliament approved the draft law on whistleblower protection. Contrary to previous laws that forbid anonymous reporting in Portugal, the new laws explicitly protect anonymous whistleblower’s, requiring organisations to establish procedures that allow for anonymous reporting. The Law will come into force six months after its publication in the Official Gazette.
  • On 16 December 2021, the Lithuanian Parliament adopted a finalised text to transpose the Directive, entering into force the new laws on 15 February 2022.

National laws are at various stages of development and transposition across other Member States.  Most EU Member States have applied for an extension and do not expect to be able to comply with the Directive until much later in 2022.

What should your organisation be doing to prepare?

Despite these delays, businesses across the EU still need to take action to ensure that they can comply with the new legislation.

The most important task for businesses is that they must set up safe and secure reporting channels for their staff and other business associates. Such channels should be designed, established, and operated in a secure manner that ensures the confidentiality of the identity of the whistleblower and the protection of any third party mentioned in the whistleblower report. This requirement initially applies only to companies (or legal entities) with 250 or more employees. From 17 December 2023, the requirement will also relate to companies with 50 to 249 employees.  

The reporting channels should allow employees to make a written or oral disclosure of a suspected breach of European Union Law.  Businesses may also outsource their internal reporting channels to service providers.

Preparation is key - free checklist

The team at SeeHearSpeakUp have put together a simple and practical checklist to help inhouse professionals responsible for developing, updating, implementing or monitoring EU Whistleblowing Directive compliance in their organisation. Anyone looking to understand what the compliance process entails will find it useful: whether you are looking to develop an internal policy or audit your existing one. The checklist is designed to guide you through key areas of the EU Whistleblower Directive compliance: policy, procedure and communication.

Each section has a set of vital actionable points that will help you navigate the EU Whistleblowing compliance for your organisation, laid out in a simple format and broken down into individual steps in laymen’s terms. You can download it here.

As leading providers of whistleblowing solutions in Europe, SeeHearSpeakUp can offer organisations several clear and easily accessible reporting channels tailored to their unique service requirements and provide assurances that independence, confidentiality, and data protection compliance are fulfilled.

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