EU Whistleblower Directive: implementation in 20 European countries

Andersen´s European Employment practice has developed the new edition of the Employment newsletter. In this publication we address the Whistleblower Directive, how it has been implemented in 20 different European countries, Italy included. Our experts, Francesca Capoferri and Matteo Amici have analyzed what employers and employees will have to observe in the future in our country.

On December 16th, 2019, the EU Whistleblower Directive 2019/1937 into force. The directive will have a significant impact, especially for employers. The directive aims to introduce a uniform minimum EU-wide protection for so called whistleblowers and to improve the detection of violations of European law. The development of the directive has been driven, inter alia, by the ineffectiveness of existing reporting mechanisms in organizations, which discourage whistleblowers and stimulate them to remain silent, even though they are vital for maintaining an open and transparent society, as they expose misconduct or hidden threats. Employers and employees are well advised to inform themselves about the implications of the Whistleblower Directive.

 

The personal scope of the directive is broad. According to the directive, not only employees but also, for example, officials, self-employed persons, shareholders and members of a management or supervisory body of a company are eligible as whistleblowers.

Furthermore, so-called facilitators, for instance third parties connected with whistleblowers (e.g., colleagues or relatives of the whistleblower) as well as legal entities owned by the whistleblower, are also to be protected from reprisals. Facilitators are persons who confidentially assist a whistleblower in making a report in a professional context.

It should be noted, however, that the directive is intended to protect only bona fide persons. Thus, a person is only considered to be a whistleblower if there was reasonable cause to believe that the reported information about violations was true at the time of the report and that such information fell within the scope of the directive.

 

In the following article, we provide a practical overview of how and to what extent the Whistleblower Directive has been implemented in the individual European states of our practice group. In addition, we shed light on what employers and employees will have to observe in the future in the individual member states.

Members of our practice group based outside the European Union provide an overview of whether and, if so, how whistleblower protection is provided in their countries.