European Union: The EU Whistleblower Protection Law: One Month On

Last Updated: 13 November 2019
Article by Gunilla Hadders

One month has passed since the new EU whistleblower protection law was approved. We said that the law is a game-changer, set to dramatically increase the chances that businesses receive critical information to help them stamp out misconduct. It's too early for the game to have changed yet, but here are some of our reflections based on reactions to the EU whistleblower protection law that we have seen during the last month.

Firstly, businesses have clearly started to act to comply with their new obligations. As a whistleblowing platform provider, we have seen a 300 % increase in the number of enquiries about the whistleblowing platform we provide. Does it provide a secure reporting channel? Is it GDPR compliant? Does it have integrated feedback and follow-up functionality? And so on. The answer to those three questions is yes, by the way.

Secondly, we are seeing that compliance officers, legal counsels or others tasked with investigating the implications of the EU whistleblower protection law are narrowly focused on what their organisations need to do to comply. This is understandable. We know from experience, though, that companies will fail to capture additional business value if their focus is purely on compliance. Implementing a whistleblowing platform is an opportunity, a chance to create competitive advantage.

In the first instance, it is solid risk prevention. It helps to protect the success of the business by minimising the risk of, and losses from corruption, harassment or environmental crimes. As an example, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' 2018 Report to the Nations, corruption and financial statement fraud are the two costliest forms of occupational fraud. Fraud losses are 50% smaller at organisations with whistleblowing platforms than those without

Further, a whistleblowing platform is a valuable tool in the business ethics toolbox. It enables businesses to build trust, demonstrate transparency and show employees and other stakeholders that they are serious about doing the right thing. All brand enhancers.

Which brings us to our third reflection – our customers are true pioneers. Masses of organisations across the EU are now getting going with their whistleblowing platforms, spurred by the approval of the EU whistleblower protection law. The more we speak to these organisations, the more we realise how forward-thinking our existing customers have been over the last 15 years. It is through our customers that we know that having professional whistleblowing platforms can have far wider-reaching effects than expected. Through our annual customer survey and daily conversations, we hear how crime has been prevented, misconduct acted upon earlier and workplace environments improved.

You still have two years to comply, but how can you use the new EU whistleblower protection law to create greater confidence within your organisation and gain competitive advantage? Inspired by our customers, we recommend organisations:

  1. Allow fully anonymous reporting and let the whistleblower remain anonymous throughout follow-up and investigation, if they so desire.
  2. Implement an easy-to-use whistleblowing platform that is available any time, from any device, and in a range of languages.
  3. Communicate about the value and importance of information provided by potential whistleblowers.

The above actions build trust, remove barriers and thus encourage whistleblowers to report their concerns so that business leaders gain information that is specifically important to the organisation. They are all simple to achieve within a whistleblowing platform, but they go beyond the requirements of the EU whistleblower protection law.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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