What should you, as an employer, do about the EU Whistleblowing Regulation?

Anonymous whistleblowing schemes are already mandatory in the EU above a certain number of employees, but they offer several benefits that also benefit smaller firms. Transparency is important not only for good and ethical corporate governance. It contributes to employee confidence and engagement and also enhances the credibility and industry/market reputation of the company. What do you need to know about the EU Whistleblowing Regulation, what are its benefits, and what should you look out for if your company is involved?

After the public sector, private sector companies are now also covered by the directive that if an employee/partner experiences any form of abuse, one can report it anonymously via an available interface. The EU whistleblowing law entered into force in 2019 and has now been incorporated into the national legislation and practice of each Member State.

What is the Whistleblowing Regulation about?

Companies covered by the Whistleblowing Act must provide an effective system/channel for their employees and partners to report an EU law violation or abuse that comes to their attention in confidence and anonymously.

Essentially, any wrongdoing within the company walls can be reported by an employee on such a platform, from discrimination to breaches of trade secrets, malpractice, corruption, etc. 

It is essential to underline that the provision protects the person reporting a breach of EU law! It is necessary to ensure that no employee/partner should fear sanctions if, for example, they point out an irregularity or abuse.

Of course, the whistleblower can also report by name, but it is mandatory to provide a channel where anonymous reporting is possible. In addition, the EU Regulation requires that the reporting system must be independent - an easy-to-use, simple, and accessible channel for all. It must also provide for the possibility to communicate with the whistleblower anonymously (this is essential for the investigation to be effective, as it may  of course, be necessary to have a dialogue with the whistleblower even if he or she reports incognito.)

Who does it apply to - and why should it apply to firms that don't?

All companies with at least 50 employees are mandated to apply the Whistleblowing Directive, but there are several arguments for smaller companies to consider implementing it. It increases the sense of security of employees and thus their engagement and transparency help workplaces operate more fairly.

What are the main benefits of such a notification system for companies?

The way a company is run and the corporate culture is fundamentally determined by proper and ethical business practices, as well as by respect for employees' rights and thorough investigation of abuses. However, there would be no investigation, and the consequences would be lost if the case were not brought to light. In other words, if no one comes to know of a suspicion of severe wrongdoing (of whatever nature) within a company. This is because they fear the possible negative consequences for them.

The act of whistleblowing rules should therefore not be seen as a mere administrative obligation but rather as a solution that benefits the company, increases trust from both sides of employees and partners, and strengthens corporate culture.

How can Blue Colibri help you comply with Whistleblowing rules?

The Administration function in Blue Colibri also allows a company to comply with the Whistleblowing Regulation of the Whistleblower Protection fully. By creating customized forms, it is possible to anonymously submit an employee whistleblowing report in the system to an external person or legal team to review the case. So if you're already using the Blue Colibri platform, your abuse reporting platform is a given.

A tip-off? Corporate Columbo? No way! - How do we resolve negative connotations?

An abuse-reporting system has essential legal and ethical objectives, but often misconceptions need to be dispelled first. Especially for older workers (who may have had their personal unpleasant experiences), the mere mention of the possibility of whistleblowing may bring up bad historical memories, and whistleblowing networks - but no such thing. 

As an employer, it is crucial to be aware of this negative connotation, because it is a way of doing everything possible to prevent an uncomfortable situation or tension from developing in the organization. Especially in a company with a higher proportion of older workers, it is important to ensure that this kind of fear is not created through targeted information and clear communication.

The important and useful purposes and benefits of the whistleblowing system need to be clarified. It is not good if the system is not used at all because of these concerns, nor is it good if it is burdened with unnecessary reporting. 

The whistleblowing system should be an integral part of the corporate culture, which serves to ensure proper and ethical operation and the protection of employees' rights. 

The other thing to tell colleagues is that this system is a very useful and important way of reporting abuse, but it is certainly not an extra burden. It is up to experts and lawyers to examine the content of the report and the evidence, and it is up to the authorities to investigate if necessary.

If your company needs a system that allows employees to report abuse anonymously, contact us. Blue Colibri makes it easy to file anonymous whistleblower reports, providing the ideal technical platform and platform to comply with the Whistleblowing Directive.