Whistleblowing Would you become a whistleblower

Whistleblowing: FAQ for companies and public institutions

Every employee who gives an anonymous tip makes a personal decision. In most cases, this is based on the desire to do the right thing. But even if employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees after discovering a grievance, a whistleblower's career can still suffer as a result. Subtle bullying is difficult to spot. Whistleblowers often feel left alone. Friends and co-workers may turn away to protect their own reputations. Even if there is an anonymous whistleblowing system in place, whistleblowers still need courage and determination to detect misconduct.

In many European countries there is currently only limited legal protection for whistleblowers. With the EU directive on reporting whistleblowing (whistleblowing directive) something has changed: The directive provides for comprehensive protection for whistleblowers - both in the private and public sectors.

The directive prohibits direct or indirect sanctions such as dismissals, demotions and other forms of discrimination against current and former employees, applicants, whistleblowers' supporters and journalists. The protection only applies to reporting violations of EU law, such as tax fraud, money laundering or criminal offenses in connection with public contracts, product and traffic safety, environmental protection, public health and consumer and data protection. However, the EU encourages national legislators to extend these areas to national law.

The whistleblower can choose whether to first report an incident internally in the company or directly to the responsible supervisory authority. If nothing is done on such a report or if the whistleblower has reason to believe that there is a public interest, he can also contact the public directly. The whistleblower is protected in any case. The EU member states have until the end of 2021 to transpose this directive into national law.