EU Whistleblower Directive: New standards applicable across all sectors
To guarantee an EU-wide minimum standard for the protection of whistleblowers, the European Union adopted the Whistleblower Directive in December 2019. One of the Directive’s key instruments to facilitate early reporting is the obligation for private and public legal entities to establish an internal reporting channel. In addition, all natural and legal persons must abstain from retaliating against a whistleblower who has properly filed a report via one of the reporting channels (internal, external and in some cases also public disclosure). EU Member States have until 17 December 2021 to implement the Directive.
Unlike some other EU countries, Belgium does not yet have a dedicated legal regime to facilitate and protect reporting by whistleblowers. Currently only the financial and the public sectors are subject to such a regime. The implementation of the Whistleblower Directive will extend this to all sectors. It will also necessitate an update of existing policies, in particular those in place on a voluntary basis within companies not subject to sector-specific regulation.
A Bill for the protection of whistleblowers is pending in the Belgian Parliament, but this does not reflect most of the minimum requirements of the Whistleblower Directive.
Below we elaborate on the key aspects of the Directive with a focus on the obligation to establish an internal reporting channel and the applicable minimum requirements.
Please do not hesitate to contact any of our team members if you have questions. To answer our clients’ needs, our team comprises specialists in various areas of law such as employment law, compliance, privacy and banking & finance.
Filip SaelensPartner Attorney at Law
Filip Saelens, attorney at law, is a local partner of the Employment & Benefits practice group in Belgium. He has over 30 years’ all-round experience in collective and individual employment law, with a particular focus on reorganisations and transformations, executive compensation, international mobility and the employment aspects of, mostly international, M&A-deals.T: +32 2 773 23 29 E: [email protected]
Vanessa MarquettePartner Attorney at Law
Vanessa Marquette, attorney at law, is a partner in the Banking and Finance Practice Group of our Brussels office and a member of the firmwide Restructuring & Insolvency team. She is recognized for her expertise in Banking and Finance with a focus on international finance law, regulated financial services, sustainable finance and banking litigation.T: +32 2 773 23 25 E: [email protected]
Stéphanie De SmedtCounsel Attorney at Law
Stéphanie De Smedt, attorney at law, is a member of the Litigation & Risk Management practice group in our Brussels office. She is head for Belgium of the IP/IT Team, the Data Protection Team and the Life Sciences Team.T: +32 2 773 23 77 E: [email protected]
Clémence Van MuylderSenior associate Attorney at Law
Clémence Van Muylder, attorney at law, is a member of the Litigation & Risk Management practice group in our Brussels office. She focuses on white-collar crime, investigations and compliance. Clémence is also a member of the Corporate Investigations, Compliance & Business Crime Defence team.T: +32 2 773 23 13 M: +32 479 51 87 19 E: [email protected]