Guide to Whistleblowing

Contributing Editors

In this new age of accountability, organisations around the globe are having to navigate a patchwork of new laws designed to protect those who expose corporate misconduct. IEL’s Guide to Whistleblowing examines what constitutes a protective disclosure, the scope of regulations across 18 countries, and the steps businesses must take to ensure compliance with them.

Learn more about the response taken in specific countries or build your own report to compare approaches taken around the world.

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05. Are the employee representative bodies involved in the implementation of this system? 

05. Are the employee representative bodies involved in the implementation of this system? 

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Australia

  • at Lander & Rogers

Strictly speaking, no. ASIC Regulatory Guide 270 does not refer to employee representative bodies needing to be involved in the implementation of whistleblower policies.

Last updated on 23/08/2022

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

There has to be a consultation of the social partners for the establishment of an internal reporting procedure. This means that the employer will have to consult the works council. If there is no works council (less than 100 employees), they will consult the trade union delegation. If there is no trade union delegation either, the health and safety committee can be consulted. This right to consultation does not mean that these representative bodies have a veto right or a decision power, but they have the right to give their opinion on the proposed system. Ideally, the employer will take their remarks into consideration.

Last updated on 01/08/2022

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Brazil

  • at CGM
  • at CGM
  • at CGM

No, employee representative bodies are not involved in the implementation of the whistleblowing procedure.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Croatia

Croatia

  • at Babic & Partners
  • at Babic & Partners

Yes, the involvement of employee representative bodies (the works council or, if there is no works council, a union trustee), provided that any such body exists with the  company, is two-fold:

  • the company must consult with the works council or union trustee regarding adoption of the whistleblowing policy – failure to do so would result in the adopted whistleblowing policy being null and void; and
  • the company must appoint the persons requested by the works council or union trustee as the WBP Officer and deputy; if no such request is made by the works council or union trustee, the  company may appoint the WBP Officer and deputy at its discretion.
Last updated on 29/07/2022

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France

  • at Proskauer
  • at Proskauer

A company’s work council must be informed and consulted before the implementation of a whistleblowing procedure.

Indeed, work councils are informed and consulted “on all questions which are linked to the organisation, management and general running of the company and in particular on conditions of employment, professional training, working conditions and on the introduction of new technologies or any significant change in health and safety conditions or working conditions” (article L. 2312-8 of the Labor Code).

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Germany

  • at Oppenhoff
  • at Oppenhoff

Although the implementation of a whistleblower system is based on a legal obligation, the works council only has to be involved under certain circumstances.

At first, the employer is, in principle, already obliged to inform the works council in good time and comprehensively about everything it requires to carry out its duties. This information requirement should enable the works council to review whether co-determination or participation rights exist or whether other tasks have to be carried out according to the German Works Constitution Act (BetrVG).

For instance, instructions concerning the orderly conduct of employees are subject to co-determination. These instructions are intended to ensure an undisturbed work process or to organise the way employees live and work together in the company.  If, in the course of the implementation of a whistleblower system, the already existing contractual obligations are extended or regulations regarding the specific reporting procedure are introduced (eg, in the form of a reporting obligation on the part of employees), the organisational behaviour would be affected and the works council must therefore be involved (section 87 (1) No. 1 BetrVG).

Furthermore, in the context of setting up an internal reporting channel, the draft bill of the Whistleblower Protection Act only stipulates that whistleblowers must be given the option of submitting a report to the whistleblowing system in text form or verbally. This could, of course, also be provided via digital channels - eg, via software- or web-based solutions. Should the introduction and use of such technical equipment in the relevant case allow the employer to monitor the behavior or performance of employees (eg, those who deal with the complaint), further co-determination rights of the works council according to section 87 (1) No. 6 BetrVG can be triggered.   

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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India

  • at Khaitan & Co
  • at Khaitan & Co

No, employee representative bodies are not involved in the vigil mechanism. The whistleblowing mechanism will be overseen by a Covered Company through its Audit Committee or Board of Directors, as may be relevant.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Japan

  • at City-Yuwa
  • at City-Yuwa
  • at City-Yuwa

The Act does not require the involvement of employee representative bodies.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Latvia

Latvia

  • at Ellex Klavins
  • at Ellex Klavins

The Whistleblowing Act does not require the involvement of employee representative bodies in implementing the whistleblowing procedure. The involvement of employee representative bodies in the whistleblowing procedures is more consultative.

The Whistleblowing Act provides that trade unions and their associations, as employee representatives bodies: can provide support, including counselling, to whistleblowers to promote whistleblowing and whistleblower protection; provide support, including counselling, to its members concerning whistleblowing; and can apply to a public authority (body) or a court on behalf of a whistleblower who is a member of the trade union.

The Labour Act provides that employee representative bodies have the right to receive information from the employer and consult with the employer concerning the implementation of measures that affect or may affect the employment relationship. Therefore, it is advisable to inform or consult with employee representative bodies (if any) about the implementation of whistleblowing procedures to avoid the risk of administrative liability.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Lithuania

Lithuania

  • at Ellex Valiunas

There is no direct obligation to include employee representatives in the implementation of this system. However, since the employer must inform or consult with the works councils regarding the adoption of certain internal laws, including when they may be relevant to the social and economic situation of employees, the need to inform and consult with the works council can be inferred.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Luxembourg

Luxembourg

  • at Castegnaro
  • at Castegnaro

Yes.

When establishing the internal reporting procedure, a company's staff delegation must be involved in different ways, depending on the size of the company:

  • In companies with less than 150 employees, the information and consultation procedure with the staff delegation will commence. The staff delegation will have to be informed about the intention to set up or modify the whistleblowing channel and will be entitled to give opinions and propose changes.
  • In companies with 150 employees and more, the decision to set up or modify the whistleblowing channel will have to be made jointly by the employer and the staff delegation (co-decision).

Under the current regime, whistleblowing channels are mostly implemented unilaterally by employers in the financial and insurance sectors, but the previous consultation process with the staff delegation or, in larger companies, co-decision, should be respected.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Nigeria

Nigeria

  • at Bloomfield LP

The Nigerian law is silent on the employee representative bodies’ involvement in the implementation of whistleblowing policies. However, the companies with whistleblowing policies do not involve employee representative bodies in the implementation of their system.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Portugal

  • at Cuatrecasas
  • at Cuatrecasas

No, but the provisions of Law No. 93/2021 do not affect the right of employees to consult their representatives or trade unions and the protective rules associated with the exercise of this right, and the right of trade unions, employers' associations, and employers to conclude a collective bargaining agreement.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Romania

  • at STALFORT Legal. Tax. Audit.
  • at STALFORT Legal. Tax. Audit.

The previous proposal of the law implementing the EU Whistleblowing Directive provided for employee representative bodies (ie, generally speaking trade unions, if they exist, or employee representatives) to be consulted when establishing the reporting procedures. The approved version as of 29 June 2022 does not provide for such consultancy procedure anymore; however, it remains recommendable.

Last updated on 16/08/2022

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Spain

  • at Cuatrecasas
  • at Cuatrecasas
  • at Cuatrecasas

Yes. Section 5 of the Draft states that the management body or governing body of each entity or body that must establish “internal information systems” will be responsible for their implementation, after consultation with the employees´ legal representatives.

Moreover, collective-bargaining agreements may also establish certain obligations in this regard.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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Sweden

  • at Lindahl
  • at Lindahl
  • at Lindahl

There is no obligation to include employee representative bodies in the implementation of whistleblowing procedures.

Last updated on 02/08/2022

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United Kingdom

  • at Proskauer
  • at Proskauer
  • at Proskauer

There is no specific legal requirement in the Employment Rights Act 1996 for employee representative bodies to be involved in (or otherwise agree to) the implementation of a whistleblowing procedure or policy. However, the rules in place with existing employee representative bodies may require consultation on any new policy or procedure and, in any event, it is best practice to involve employee representatives in the implementation of a whistleblowing system.

Last updated on 29/07/2022

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United States

  • at Proskauer
  • at Proskauer

Employers with unionised employees may have a duty to bargain with the union if the whistleblower program can be deemed to affect the terms and conditions of employment of the union members.

Last updated on 29/07/2022