The German Whistleblower Protection Law

The German transposition of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive is now in force.  
This means it has completed the transposition of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive's requirements for protecting whistleblowers who report violations of European and national laws. 
The EU Directive requires private sector employers regularly employing at least 250 employees, and public sector employers regularly employing at least 50 employees, to establish a secure, confidential whistleblowing channel by the relevant deadlines. 
To learn the latest developments and specific details on Germany’s whistleblowing laws, including deadlines for action, complete this form and receive its data sheet. 

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The German Whistleblower Protection Law

The German Whistleblowing Protection Law is expected to go further than the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive’s minimum requirements.

 

Like all other members of the European union, Germany is required to transpose the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive into national law, which will become the German Whistleblower Protection Law. The EU Directive obliges businesses with more than 50 employees to have a reporting channel for whistleblowers to raise a broad spectrum of concerns. In addition, the law forbids reprisals against whistleblowers. The deadline for this transposition was 17th December 2021, which Germany did not meet, largely due to the focus on the German federal elections in September 2021.

The German Whistleblower Protection Law

What is the current status of the German Whistleblower Protection Law?

There is currently no German Whistleblower Protection Law, and whistleblower protection is still very limited relative to the standards required by the EU directive. National regulations on whistleblower protection currently only exist for the financial services sector and regarding the protection of business secrets.

On 13 April 2022, a draft Whistleblower Protection Act was published by Germany’s Ministry of Justice. It indicated that the German Whistleblower Protection Law will go further than the minimum requirements stated within the EU directive for protecting whistleblowers. As is the case in Sweden, it proposes that whistleblowers will also be protected for raising concerns, not only on breaches of EU law as is required by the EU directive, but also breaches of German law where the disclosure is in the public interest. This would be a major change in government policy and would move Germany from one of the least regulated countries for adopting whistleblowing regulations to one of the most comprehensive set of legal requirements in the world. Given that the Ministry invited stakeholders to submit their comments by 11 May 2022, implementation of the German Whistleblower Law is expected mid-2022.

“The German Whistleblowing Protection Law is expected to go further than the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive’s requirements. Transposition of the German Whistleblower Law is expected mid-2022.“

What should organisations do now?

There is good news for companies with operations in Germany who would prefer to act now and get ahead of the upcoming requirements to protect whistleblowers. To ensure you remain compliant, we recommend that organisations review the minimum requirements as stated in the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive and identify solutions to help organisations quickly and easily fulfil them. These requirements apply to all EU member states and to all organisations with more than 50 employees. They include:

 

  1. A secure channel for receiving whistleblower reports must be put in place.
  2. Acknowledgment of the receipt of the report must be provided to the whistleblower within seven days.
  3. An impartial person or department must be appointed to follow up on the reports.
  4. Records must be kept of every report received, in compliance with confidentiality requirements.
  5. There must be diligent follow-up of the report by the designated person or department.
  6. Feedback about the report follow-up must be given to the whistleblower within three months.
  7. All processing of personal data must be done in accordance with the GDPR.

How ready are German organisations to comply with the new whistleblowing laws?

 

The data below was compiled from the results of a recent NAVEX survey of 2,250 senior business professionals across nine European countries.

Half of business leaders in Germany (51%) considered themselves fully aware of the EU Whistleblower Directive, placing Germany among the top three countries in terms of awareness of the new regulations.

When asked how prepared their organisation is, generally Germany appears to be largely in line with the rest of Europe. We found that almost one third of respondents in Germany (32%) strongly agreed that their organisation had clearly defined whistleblowing processes in place and 28% strongly agreed that their organisation’s culture supports compliance with the directive. However, this leaves more than two thirds of respondents less confident that their current whistleblowing processes will be sufficient to meet the minimum requirements. Organisations must also consider that the proposed German whistleblower law will go even further.

One of the worst responses we received when compared with the rest of Europe, was when we asked how you would rate the training and guidance your organisation gives to employees to help them identify and report misconduct. Only 20% of respondents from Germany stated this was very good, one of the worst outcomes in our survey.

 

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