Ensuring compliance

Operating legally compliant reporting channels

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Ensuring compliance

Whistleblowing legislation varies from country to country, both as to what can be reported and whether anonymous reporting is allowed. InTouch has the expertise to ensure that organisations receive reports appropriate to the regulatory requirements of each country. We help organisations to comply with all regulatory requirements and ensure that all communications, including report intake scripts, inform whistleblowers about what is and what is not permitted.

Permitted Scope

The permitted scope of whistleblower hotlines varies widely from one EU country to another.  Some countries only permit these services to be set up for accounting, financial, antitrust and anticorruption issues whilst others limit the scope to ‘substantial offences’.  

Employee Consent

Whilst there are a number of EU countries in which employee consent is not usually required, others do require their permission for the data processing that forms part of a whistleblower service.  Legal advice should always be taken to ensure that whistleblower hotlines are set up to meet all such requirements. 

Works Councils

Works Councils are common in many EU countries and must be notified if a whistleblower hotline is being planned.  In some countries their consent is also required which can often delay the implementation.  Where there are multiple Works Councils, these must be handled individually.

Before launching a whistleblowing programme organisations must assess the position in relation to EU data protection law.  InTouch can help guide clients who should also seek legal advice early in the planning stage.

The issues relevant to implementing whistleblower programmes include:

  • Limiting the list of reportable offenses appropriate to the whistleblower hotline
  • Integrating programmes into the specific structures and protocols that are relevant to European workplaces
  • Discouraging anonymity and keeping silent about anonymity in the jurisdictions where anonymity is discouraged or not permitted such as France, Spain and Portugal
  • Not requiring rank-and-file workers to report on colleagues’ misconduct
  • Clearly communicating due process rights, particularly the presumption of innocence
  • Obtaining permission to implement a whistleblowing programme where necessary, as mandated by local data privacy agencies
  • Translating launch communications and promotional materials into the applicable local language
  • Ensuring that any hotline calls routed outside the EU comply with applicable rules relevant to the restriction of data sent abroad
  • Securing data in accordance with EU data security laws
  • Conducting internal investigations of whistleblowing reports in accordance with accepted European practices
  • Purging or destroying records of incidents once the matter is resolved

Legislation Reference Links

  • Article 29 EU Working Party Recommendations                       (download PDF)
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act                                                   (download PDF)
  • The UKCorporate Governance Code                                       (download PDF)
  • Bribery Act Adequate Procedures Guidance Note                   (download PDF)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley                                                                       (download PDF)

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Ensuring compliance