The law implementing the EU whistleblowers Directive into Danish law has finally been passed. Under it, Danish groups of companies can implement a joint whistleblower scheme (at least for the time being), rather than one for each entity with over 249 employees.
Back in April 2018, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new directive to increase protection for whistleblowers who report violations of EU law. The Directive was adopted following a series of adaptations in October 2019 and must be implemented in the Member States by December 2021.
In Denmark, a draft of the bill was sent for consultation by the Ministry of Justice on 24 February 2021 (see here, in Danish). A bill was subsequently submitted to the Folketing, the Danish Parliament, on 14 April 2021. In the most important respects, the bill was identical to the previous draft, and the adopted law is also largely identical to the draft.
During the consideration of the bill in the Folketing, however, a large number of Danish groups approached with questions regarding the possibility of establishing a common whistleblower scheme for groups, as according to the wording of the bill in conjunction with the draft legislation, groups were obliged to establish a whistleblower scheme for each legal entity with over 249 employees.
New: common whistleblower schemes for groups
The Folketing has decided that it must be possible for Danish groups to establish a joint whistleblower scheme for the entire group in the first instance, rather than a whistleblower scheme being established for each individual legal entity with more than 249 employees.
However, it also appears from the adopted law that the Minister of Justice may lay down rules that would exclude the possibility of establishing a common whistleblower scheme anyway. This will depend on whether the Minister of Justice and the Legal Affairs Committee assess up to the date when the law enters into force whether it will be in accordance with the Directive for groups to have a common system. In connection with this, they will also look at what the interpretation may be in other countries implementing the Directive. A report from the Legal Affairs Committee states that if there is a real doubt whether it would be contrary to the Directive to have group-wide whistleblower schemes, Danish legislation will not prevent companies from implementing group-wide schemes. Conversely, if there is no doubt that this would be contrary to the Directive, then the Minister of Justice will lay down rules that companies cannot have group-wide schemes.
The law will enter into force on 17 December 2021.
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