How prepared is your organization for the new whistleblowing regime?

The European Whistleblowing Directive (EU WBD) was to be implemented by the European Union's 27 member states by no later than 17 December 2021, impacting employers with operations in those jurisdictions. Member states are still passing their implementing legislation, meaning employers are facing a period of intense activity as they adapt to changes in legislation across the region.

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The EU WBD is intended to encourage reporting of unlawful conduct through the protection of employees and workers who report about certain breaches of European Union law.

The EU WBD sets out a framework for internal and external reporting, with strict timeframes for the provision of feedback to whistleblowers and robust anti-retaliation provisions.

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The EU WBD impacts three main areas: employment, compliance and data protection.

Many organizations will, in practice, want to implement a consistent approach across their entire European operations and to cover a broader range of topics than those prescribed by the EU WBD.

They may also wish to factor in broader global considerations to ensure consistency of approach worldwide. In a recent I&D survey which we conducted, 78% of organizations surveyed stated that creating a “speak up” culture is a top I&D priority. Investing in whistleblowing systems and appropriate training across all operations will help cultivate such a culture.

Particular areas to consider include the following:

  • Setting appropriate time limits for handling reports and providing feedback
  • Knowing how to deal with allegations raising more than one issue
  • Management of confidentiality, data privacy and handling of anonymous reports
  • Handling data subject access requests
  • Dealing with government authorities and external agencies
  • Ensuring the right personnel are trained on handling reports and case management 
  • Communicating the changes to the workforce

How we can help

Get integrated advice on key employment, privacy and compliance issues that arise when implementing whistleblowing policies, rolling out whistleblowing hotline systems, and handling whistleblowing-related complaints.

Our support includes the following:

  • Revising your internal compliance programs (the EU WBD will enhance the culture of crime prevention and detection within companies)
  • Implementing of whistleblowing hotlines and global HR databases
  • Assessing privacy issues arising from the EU WBD
  • Building your investigations protocols
  • Assisting your internal investigations, ensuring evidence is collected lawfully
  • Conducting independent and thorough investigations for serious allegations 
  • Providing advice on potential disciplinary measures needed
  • Training your managers and personnel on handling investigations
  • Litigation support

Get a curated multijurisdictional analysis matrix covering five key areas, to help you get started in planning your organization's whistleblowing regime.

For a fixed fee per jurisdiction, we offer jurisdiction-specific data sheets that provide answers to questions about the directive's scope and implementation requirements for internal procedures, protection of whistleblowers, and data privacy issues.

Get in touch with your local Baker McKenzie contact today for more information or see our key contacts below.

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