One year until the new EU whistleblower protection directive: A whistleblowing system can help today

December 1, 2020

In just about a year, when the EU whistleblower protection directive comes into force, people all over Europe are likely, for the first time, to speak up about illegal activities going on inside their organisations. 

From December 2021 the new directive will protect whistleblowers in Europe who raise the alarm about breaches to law, such as economic crime, environmental crime etc. From that date, employees and other stakeholders will be able to report on misconduct they suspect is happening in the organisations they work in or deal with, while enjoying legal protection. 

Is there a whistleblower just waiting inside your company? Maybe.

For blowing the whistle is stressful and fear of retaliation stops many people daring to do it. But in one year’s time retaliation will be illegal and identities must legally be kept confidential, according to the EU whistleblower protection directive. All companies with 250 employees or more will legally be required to provide a secure channel for whistleblowers to report. And if the potential whistleblower doesn’t trust the internal whistleblowing channel, or doesn’t see any action after reporting, they will also be protected if they decide to report externally, for example to the media. So, will we suddenly hear from a wave of whistleblowers? Will companies’ brands and reputations be put on the line?  

Who knows, but it’s why you should you be thinking about protecting your company’s brand in relation to the EU whistleblower protection directive already now. 

No ethical business leader likes the thought that illegal behaviour may be taking place inside the walls of their company. So why wait a year to find out? The sooner you find out the sooner you can move to stop it. The sooner you implement a secure whistleblowing system that really protects your people, the greater the chances are that they will report internally, rather than externally. There is no reason to wait to prevent reputational and financial losses.

There is another brand aspect to consider here too, related to credibility and trust. What does it say about a company if its leaders are waiting to “flip the whistleblowing switch” on 17 December 2021, and only because they are legally obliged to? Ethical brands, like our forward-thinking customers, want to demonstrate their transparency and protect their people now. They welcome whistleblowers and embrace openness because it’s the right thing to do, and builds trust in the brand. 

You may be one of those company leaders and would like to act now, but you’re waiting for the national proposal of the whistleblower protection law in your country. The good news is there is still plenty you can do today.  Make sure your preparations take the minimum requirements of the EU whistleblower protection directive into account and you will be well on track.

These include:

  • Implementing secure reporting channels that ensure confidentiality for the whistleblower
  • Communicating reporting options to employees, suppliers, business partners, etc, including external reporting options
  • Protecting whistleblowers against retaliation 
  • Assigning a suitable, impartial person to receive and follow up on reports
  • Acknowledging reports within 7 days, and providing feedback within 3 months

A whistleblowing system can help to both protect and build your company’s brand, and you don’t have to wait a year to get started. 

For more details and tips, take a look at the WhistleB resource centre on the EU whistleblower protection directive. You might also be interested in a free trial of the WhistleB ‘Ready-to-Launch’ system, which is compliant with the core requirements of the new directive as well as the GDPR.


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