Proposal for Whistleblower Protection Directive: unravelled
We are happy to see that the European Commission is proposing a new law to strengthen whistleblower protection across the EU. Today’s presentation of the key elements of the proposal for EU-wide rules on the protection of whistleblowers » gives a good impression of the intention of the EC concerning whistleblower protection. Let’s take a closer look at the main elements of the proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive. We comment on various elements from our perspective as a global provider of whistleblowing systems.
Which organisations are specifically mentioned in the proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive?
- private legal entities with 50 or more employees;
- private legal entities with a turnover of over €10 million;
- private legal entities with a balance sheet of over €10 million;
- private legal entities operating in the area of financial services;
- private legal entities vulnerable to money laundering or terrorist financing;
- state administrations, regions and departments and municipalities with more than 10,000 residents; and
- entities governed by public law.
Internal reporting before external reporting and dialogue with the whistleblower
The proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive makes internal reporting as a first step mandatory. External reporting is only allowed if:
- the organisation did not follow up on the internal report;
- the whistleblower could not know about the possibility to report internally; or
- the organisation did not have a reporting channel in place.
However, the option to directly report externally remains open in cases where the whistleblower could not be expected to use an internal reporting channel or if internal reporting could jeopardise the effectiveness of investigative actions by competent authorities. Organisations are supposed to keep whistleblowers updated on how the report is being dealt with.
Who should be given access to the reporting channel?
The proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive contains a wide scope of people who could be regarded as a whistleblower. The proposed law mentions workers (employees), shareholders, consultants, self-employed persons, suppliers and subcontractors, volunteers and trainees, whether paid or unpaid.
Our experience shows that offering access to a reporting channel is a matter of comfort. Our customer study » shows that although employees are the most important source for detecting misconduct and wrongdoings that should be prevented or addressed, external parties are increasingly invited to report. Nearly half of the organisations that participated in the survey said that they invite external stakeholders to report misconduct. Practically, this means that organisations should think about establishing a reporting channel that allows easy access to the large group of potential whistleblowers as envisaged by the proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive, ideally in any language.
Anonymous & confidential reporting
The proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive states that the reporting system should ensure confidentiality.
We congratulate the European Commission with this brave historical step and we encourage all stakeholders to continue the implementation of its envisaged provisions and further improve its content.