Whistleblowers are persons who report or disclose information about violations related to their work activities. In the future, these "whistleblowers" will receive better legal protection with the new EU directives. […]
Panama Papers or Paradise Papers – in both cases the so-called whistleblowers played a crucial role. These are employees who, in their work environment, have detected and reported legal violations or criminal activities such as corruption or misuse of information – internally or externally. However, the fear of what might happen after the transfer of information is great, as most people fear the possible consequences of non-anonymization. In Eurobarometer Corruption (2017), 81 percent of respondents said they did not report a corruption case they observed or witnessed.
The consequences of silence by potential whistleblowers are costly: according to the study, this alone leads to damage of € 5.8 billion to € 9.6 billion annually in awarding public contracts in the EU. In order to guarantee a European standard for whistleblower whistleblower protection, the European Parliament has recently adopted guidelines for the protection of whistleblowers across the EU. These will be compulsorily implemented by 2021 by companies and organizations, similar to the DSGVO.
The main points of the draft directive are:
- Protection of whistleblowers who detect breaches of EU law, such as tax fraud, money laundering or misconduct related to public procurement, product and transport safety, environmental protection, radiation and nuclear safety, animal welfare, public health and consumer and data protection.
- Companies with 50 or more employees are required to take appropriate measures. For companies active in the financial services sector or subject to money laundering or terrorist financing activities, this obligation applies regardless of the number of employees.
- According to the draft directive, whistleblowers should first report infringements through internal channels but may also use external channels in the future (eg national or EU bodies). External mode is in. A. Possible if there is an imminent danger and there is a risk of failure or if there was no timely or no response to the internal message.
- The draft directive applies to current private and public sector employees as well as former employees and applicants who received such information during the application process, as well as paid or unpaid trainees, self-employed and whistleblower supporters.
To prepare for this new EU directive, the company needs proper internal reporting channels: these include an anonymous mailbox, central email account, appropriate telephone lines, an ombudsman or a purely digital system. All of these reporting channels have their advantages and disadvantages, with some saying it is a digital system – ultimately, it provides the greatest anonymity possible. Therefore, the cloud-based system offers easy access through inbound masks, it stores all messages at the center, and whistleblowers do not need an email or user account.
So that an anonymous dialogue can be conducted, informants receive a prefix number and password after logging in. Integrated case management enables rapid processing with the participation of the appropriate department, which has the appropriate access rights. Another advantage is the clear and efficient management of notifications, which is almost impossible with regard to complete documentation and deadline compliance without a digital system.
Employees need to know where to go and have confidence that they are being protected. Businesses that benefit from running the right whistle channel far outweigh the effort required to deliver the right infrastructure. Thanks to insider advice, it is possible to identify potential risks early on in the company, action can be taken and eventually prevent damage to the reputation from the outside.
* Johannes Kreiner is the CEO of Sage DPW.