Germany’s New Whistleblower Act Goes Beyond EU Directive With Unique Requirements
Hanno Timner and Christin Dunkel spoke to the Anti-Corruption Report about the key elements of the German Whistleblower Protection Act that in-house compliance practitioners should understand.
“The scope of the German law is much broader than the scope of the EU Directive [which it implements],” Hanno said. “The EU Directive is limited to specific violations of EU law, as the EU acted within its limited legislative competence and aimed to set minimum standards for whistleblower protection in the EU. In contrast to this, the German law is significantly broader and not only covers all subjects listed in the EU Directive, but any law or regulation whose violation can constitute a criminal offense, or which is subject to fines if the violated regulation intends to protect either life, limb or health of individuals, or the rights of employees or of employee representatives. Other EU member states have also expanded on the scope of reportable concerns set out in the EU Directive.”
Christin added: “Reports made anonymously protect the whistleblower from retaliation, as the company is not aware of the whistleblower’s identity. For all other reports, we recommend implementing a bundle of anti-retaliation measures at the time when the internal reporting line is established. These measures should include providing comprehensive training of all workers, including the investigators, pointing out that it is in the company’s and also the workers’ best interests that workers do report any – suspected – wrongdoing to ensure compliance with the law, and confirming that any form of retaliation is strictly prohibited, provided that reports were made in good faith.”
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