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A Chance at Compliancy: How to become compliant with the new EU Directive

How can your company become compliant with the EU Directive 2019/1937? What does the Directive entail? What does your company need to do?

“Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 17 December 2021”. You may be in charge of Human Resources in your company, you may be an executive, or you may just be an avid reader of EU Directives.


Either way, you may have stumbled on the so-called EU Directive 2019/1937. In short, the Whistleblowing Directive. You may know what whistleblowing is (if you don’t, we suggest heading over to our article), but you may not have the time or energy to read over 40 pages of legal jargon.


But don’t worry - Metta Space is here to help. Not just in helping you understand what the new Directive is really about, but also to bring you an innovative and compliant solution to the new regulations that the Directive requests.


What is the EU Directive?

The EU Directive 2019/1937 was created to ensure that people who want to report any breach of EU law within an organisation are able to do so through channels which guarantee their safety.


EU Member States have been given two years to implement the Directive into national law, which means that companies with more than 50 employees are obliged to provide safe channels to report cases of wrongdoing.


Often, whistleblowers are discouraged from speaking up against misconduct in their work environment due to fear of retaliation (the action of returning an attack) or worrying about negative consequences. In one of our previous articles we have outlined some of the main reasons why people do not report workplace misconduct. Therefore, the implementation of this Directive will provide and promote a safe and secure way to facilitate the reporting of such incidents.


What is the objective of the Directive?

In short, the main objective of the EU Directive is to ensure that whistleblowers are able to speak out against any form of misconduct in the workplace, without fear of retaliation.


The implementation of the Directive will help detect and prevent workplace misconduct and breaches of EU laws and regulations in the working environment. In order to do so, companies must improve law enforcement by establishing effective, confidential and secure reporting channels.


Currently, more than ⅓ of all EU companies do not have reporting channels implemented in their organisation. As such, this Directive is a push for many companies to have to find and attain channels that allow for safe and anonymous reporting channels.


Who is protected under this Directive?

© EU Law Analysis

The Directive focuses on protection and support for whistleblowers. Whistleblower protection should be ensured with the reporting of any breach of EU law across different areas. Protection can be ensured if reports are carried out either through internal channels, external channels or public disclosure. The protection offered should include effective remedy, fair trial and identity protection of the persons concerned.


What is considered Whistleblowing under the Directive?

You may not be sure which type of acts or malpractices currently fall under “Whistleblowing” for the EU Directive. Here are some examples of whistleblowing that are included in the Directive. Any report made with regards to the following areas:

  1. Public procurement (e.g. obtaining or purchasing of illegal goods or services)

  2. Financial services (e.g. corruption, bribery, fraud)

  3. Product safety and compliance (e.g. knowingly selling or trading faulty products)

  4. Transport safety (e.g. knowingly constructing malfunctioning products)

  5. Protection of the environment (e.g. breaching EU carbon emission laws)

  6. Radiation protection and nuclear safety (e.g. breaking radiation emission laws)

  7. Food safety (e.g. importing agricultural products not deemed safe under EU law)

  8. Animal health & welfare (e.g. injecting animals with hormones not allowed under EU law)

  9. Public health (e.g. breaking regulations on public health treatments)

  10. Consumer protection (e.g. a trader infringing on consumer rights)

  11. Protection of privacy and personal data (e.g. leaking data deemed sensitive or private)

What is considered retaliation under EU law?

Under the EU Directive retaliation is highly prohibited. The EU is urging Member States to take the necessary measures to prohibit any form of retaliation against employees by a company.


Oftentimes, a fear of retaliation is one of the main reasons why people do not report cases of workplace misconduct. Retaliation can include anything from being fired to being discriminated and unfortunately, at the moment, many targets and witnesses of workplace misconduct, especially those of sexual harassment, still face retaliation when reporting.


Under the EU Directive, retaliation against a whistleblower now becomes a breach of EU law. Retaliation, under this law can take the form of: ​​

  • Suspension, lay-off, dismissal

  • Demotion or withholding of promotion

  • Transfer of duties

  • Negative performance assessment

  • Imposition of disciplinary measures, reprimands or penalties

  • Coercion, intimidation, harassment

  • Discrimination

  • Failure to convert a temporary employment contract into a permanent one, or to renew

How am I liable under the Directive as a company?

As a company you are legally required to implement this Directive before the end of 2021 (if you have more than 250 employees). This means that safe and secure reporting channels must be introduced to enable confidential whistleblowing. Companies should also put in place training programmes for staff who will be handling the reports e.g. Human Resources.


What do I need to do to be compliant as a company?

© WWF

In order to be compliant, companies must start by putting in place safe and anonymous reporting channels to facilitate and ensure proper whistleblowing.


As a company, you must also decide on who the most suitable person internally would be to receive and follow up on said reports.


After submitting a report, whistleblowers must receive a confirmation of receipt from the company within seven days. Whistleblowers should be informed about follow-up actions within three months of the report. Companies should also provide accessible information about the rules of using the reporting channels.


How can Metta Space help you be compliant?

Although Metta Space specialises in sexual harassment, we are also helping companies with the reporting of other workplace misconduct, especially those targeted in the EU Directive. The Directive states that persons can file a complaint and directly report via external reporting channels.


Metta Space can help be that exporting service provider that serves as a reporting channel for employees. Our safe and secure application allows for all employees to report any type of workplace misconduct and they can choose to remain anonymous throughout the whole process. We also offer a Case Management System for those handling reported cases for efficient, coherent and effective administration and management.


As stated above, companies should also put in place training programmes for the staff who will be handling reports. At Metta Space, with a subscription to our application we also offer workshops, training, resources and ongoing support to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to handle any incoming cases. Thus, Metta Space is facilitating companies to become compliant with the EU Directive.

 

Written By: Paula Koller-Alonso, Head of R&D at Metta Space

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