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Federal Ministry of Justice aims to extend Whistleblower Protection Directive to German law

The EU countries have one more year to enshrine the whistleblower directive in national law. Last weekend, Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht unveiled proposed legislation for Germany that goes even further than the stipulations in the directive: while the directive is limited to EU law, the draft bill is designed to apply to German law as well, which is a major change.

However, it foresees limiting the mandatory processing of anonymous reports. With this proposal, the German Ministry of Justice aims to prevent the “overloading of reporting channels”, fearing “additional costs for the necessary technology” and citing “the risk of denunciatory reports”.

“The option of submitting complaints anonymously is now standard. It is well established in current legislature around the world and is also clearly stipulated in the EU directive. We take a very critical view of the German bill’s proposal to limit the processing of reports to whistleblowers who use their real name. The great importance of anonymity is also clearly reflected in the data in our benchmarking study, which we conduct annually among users of our whistleblowing system: nearly 80 percent of respondents indicate that over a quarter of the reports they receive are anonymous, and 44 percent put the figure at half or more. However, there are virtually no denunciatory reports among them, so the bill does not really reflect reality in this respect, either.”

Kenan Tur, Founder and Board of Business Keeper

The draft legislature at a glance:

  • As the directive stipulates, the bill aims to forbid any retaliation against whistleblowers and to reverse the burden of proof. This would require the employer to prove that there is no connection whatsoever between a termination and the detection of wrongdoing.
  • This is to apply to employees and civil servants alike.
  • According to the bill, two equivalent reporting channels are to be made available to whistleblowers: an internal reporting channel within the company and an external reporting channel in the office of Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection.
  • For violations of accounting provisions, shareholders’ rights and the like, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority is to serve as the external reporting channel.
  • If whistleblowers choose to go public, they will only be protected under certain circumstances.

Go to article (in German)