24 Apr 2018
The European Commission has published plans to protect workers who blow the whistle on a wide range of EU law breaches, including money laundering, terrorist funding and financial services legislation.
Currently, protection given to whistleblowers across the EU is fragmented and uneven, with only 10 EU Member States ensuring that whistleblowers are fully protected.
Under the new proposals, firms with over 50 employees or with an annual turnover of over €10 million will have to set up an internal procedure to handle whistleblowers’ reports.
The new law will also cover all government, regional administrations and municipalities with over 10,000 residents.
According to the Commission, the protection mechanisms [that will have to be set up] must include:
- Clear reporting channels, within and outside of the organisation, ensuring confidentiality;
- A three tier reporting system of:
- Internal reporting channels;
- Reporting to competent authorities – if internal channels do not work or could not reasonably be expected to work (for example where the use of internal channels could jeopardise the effectiveness of investigative actions by the authorities responsible);
- Public/media reporting – if no appropriate action is taken after reporting through other channels, or in case of imminent or clear danger to the public interest or irreversible damage;
- Feedback obligations for authorities and companies, who will have to respond and follow-up to the whistleblowers’ reports within 3 months for internal reporting channels;
There is also a clause banning the retaliation against whistleblowers:
“If a whistleblower suffers retaliation, he or she should have access to free advice and adequate remedies (for example measures to stop workplace harassment or prevent dismissal).
“The burden of proof will be reversed in such cases, so that the person or organisation must prove that they are not acting in retaliation against the whistleblower,” the Commission explained.
“Whistleblowers will also be protected in judicial proceedings, in particular through an exemption from liability for disclosing the information,” it added.
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