The new EU Whistleblower Protection Directive – Are the Member States ready?
Almost six months have passed since the Whistleblower Protection Directive came into force. This blog piece provides an overview of the new whistleblower protections and related obligations for companies.
With Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (the "Whistleblower Protection Directive"), the EU sends a strong signal that individuals seeking to expose wrongdoings in both the private and the public sectors will be protected and will not have to fear retaliation.
The Directive establishes the minimum requirements for the Member States' internal regulations concerning the protection of whistleblowers.
Most importantly, it provides that the Member States must:
- ensure that all forms of retaliation against whistleblowers by their employers are prohibited; where the whistleblowers are broadly defined and include workers, but also shareholders, persons supervised by contractors or suppliers, as well as future employees acquiring information in the course of the recruitment process;
- oblige legal entities with over 50 workers, in both the private and the public sectors, to implement specific internal reporting channels to ensure that the whistleblower's identity is kept confidential;
- designate the authorities competent to receive, give feedback and follow up on reports; and
- provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for persons that hinder reporting, retaliate against whistleblowers, or otherwise breach the duties outlined in the Whistleblower Protection Directive.
For a more in-depth analysis of the Whistleblower Protection Directive, as well as a checklist for compliance with the regulations, please refer to our full briefing, available via the link to the right of this post.
The EU Member States are obliged to transpose the Directive's provisions into their national legislation by 17 December 2021, with the exception of the regulations requiring organisations with between 50 and 249 workers to introduce internal reporting channels, which may be brought into force by 17 December 2023.
Over the coming weeks, we will share a series of posts summarising whether the regulations present in the different EU Member States comply with the Whistleblower Protection Directive.