Whistleblowing: A guide to implementation of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive
Numerous recent global scandals have highlighted the important role that whistleblowers can play in exposing breaches of EU law. In particular, the workplace is often central to the identification of wrongdoing since individuals who work for, or have work-related contact with, a business are often the first to learn of alleged misconduct within the organisation. At the same time, fear of retaliation, and lack of legal protection against retaliation, can discourage them from reporting their concerns.
Previously, whistleblowing laws were implemented on a national basis across the EU, which meant that protections were fragmented, inconsistent, or even non-existent. To address this, the EU passed the Whistleblower Protection Directive, which had a deadline of 17 December 2021 for Member States to incorporate into their national laws.
The Directive reflects the European Commission’s view that Member States should have a legal and institutional framework to protect persons who, in the context of their industrial relations, draw attention to violations or to threats to the public interest or make information on them public.
The new EU whistleblower laws herald a significant change in approach to whistleblowing in many EU countries, as well as significantly altering the compliance landscape for companies operating in the EU. Employers need to understand implementing laws to ensure they have an approach that works for their business and achieves local compliance. In addition, multinationals that have long adhered to the US “gold standard” Sarbanes-Oxley Act may need to revisit their approach to ensure their programs satisfy the most extensive protections implemented by each EU Member State, while continuing to meet US requirements.
While the EU framework will require many EU and multinational companies to make changes to their whistleblower programs, it also promises rewards. By ensuring that effective whistleblowing arrangements are in place, businesses have an opportunity to become aware of concerns at the earliest stages, helping to avoid or limit financial and reputational risks.
To support businesses to comply with the new whistleblowing laws in the countries where they do business, DLA Piper has published a Guide to Implementation of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. Our guide contains:
- Detailed information on local implementing laws in 17 EU Member States (with more coming soon).
- A comparison builder allowing a side-by-side comparison of implementing laws in different jurisdictions.
- A country-by-country implementation tracker.
- An overview of the Directive’s key provisions.
- A comparison of the EU Directive and the US Sarbanes-Oxley regime.
- Actions for employers to take as they update their programs to ensure workplace whistleblowing compliance with the new laws.
The guide is freely available to subscribers of GENIE, our Global Employment News, Insights and Events site www.dlapipergenie.com. To access this content on GENIE, please speak to your usual DLA Piper contact or email firstname.lastname@example.org.