Challenge of Complying with the EU’s Whistleblower Directive
Historically, whistleblower protections within the European Union have varied considerably. That is set to change with the implementation of the new EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. These new rules, which were formally adopted by the European Parliament on October 7, 2019, give member states two years to implement the protections into their own national laws. This change brings new opportunities as well as challenges to firms operating within the EU; while many companies may have to update or improve their internal reporting policies and procedures, they now have a single, unified standard to meet.
The major components of the EU Directive, which applies to all companies with 50 or more employees, revolve around the explicit protection of all whistleblowers who report a violation of EU law. One of the primary requirements of the directive is the implementation of internal reporting channels and processes, which the legislation encourages whistleblowers to use and offers access to a range of legal, financial and psychological support when doing so. The directive also extends whistleblower protections to include trainees, volunteers and self-employed workers (in addition to employees). In all, the new EU Directive takes significant steps to empower and protect reporters.