The Whistleblowers Directive advances protection against reporting violations

The entry into force of the Whistleblowers DirectiveIn other words, the Community Directive 2019/1937 for the protection of persons who report infringements of European Union law, will change the situation of these whistleblowers, guaranteeing their safety.

Today expires the deadline for Spain, and the rest of the EU countries, to transpose the community directive 2019/1937, also known as the Whistleblowers Directive, for the protection of those people who report infringements that occur within the framework of the Law of the European Union.

It is a move towards business transparency since it was created with the aim of detecting and preventing conduct that could lead to criminal breaches, protecting people who report possible irregularities in both public and private sector companies.

With this, the Directive seeks to establish a protection space so that any citizen can feel safe and protected when reporting situations of money laundering, terrorist financing, product safety, privacy protection, personal data and information systems, among many other aspects.

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This establishes a reporting framework with strict deadlines when it comes to providing information to whistleblowers and strong provisions against retaliation as highlighted by Francisco Bonatti, Managing Partner of Bonatti Compliance.

“Citizens have absolute protection over their identity or can even report anonymity since this new legislation establishes the protection of the complainant before Administrations and companies as a top priority.”

Implications of the new Whistleblowers Directive

According to the Directive, in the private sector, the obligation to implement the complaint channel applies to entities with 50 to 249 workers.

Likewise, those with a business volume or annual balance equal to or greater than 10 million euros and, lastly, those of any size that operate in the field of financial services or that are vulnerable to money laundering or terrorist financing.

Companies with less than 50 workers or municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants may be exempted from the obligation to establish an internal complaints channel.

In the case of the Public Administration, public, technological and oral channels must be established to process these complaints, which will be subject to the Law on Data Protection and Guarantee of digital rights.

As Bonetti highlights, the citizen has absolute protection over his identity, being able to report anonymously since this new legislation establishes the protection of the whistleblower as the highest priority.

In this sense, it is regulated that, in no case, the complainant may suffer consequences or reprisals as happened until now in the form of dismissals, changes of location, demotions or coercion, among others.

In the case of natural or legal persons who prevent or attempt to prevent complaints or adopt retaliatory measures, they may be sanctioned, as well as for complainants who have acted in bad faith, publicly communicating or revealing false information.

The sanctions They can reach 50,000 euros for preventing or making it difficult to follow up on a complaint, for not complying with the right to confidentiality or for practicing retaliation, or up to 25,000 euros for not having an internal complaint channel.

However, this expert also highlights the fact that, due to the fact that the directive must be transposed into the national legislation of each EU country, variations may be introduced, something that must be taken into account by companies that operate at a level. pan-european.

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