20 September 2023
Adaptation of whistleblowers' scheme to new law; employers will be required to adapt internal whistleblower reporting procedures and whistleblowing employees will have increased protection from measures under employment law.
That is very briefly what will change for most employers from 17 December 2023. Work to be done, then! This is related to the new Whistleblowers Protection Act (Wet bescherming klokkenluiders) coming into force for employers that have 50-249 employees.
For some time, employers with 50 or more employees have been required to establish an internal reporting scheme for suspected wrongdoing, a so-called whistleblowers’ scheme. The current situation is that an employee first makes a report internally and only then makes a report to the Whistleblowers Authority (Huis voor Klokkenluiders). The law currently already protects the reporter of wrongdoing against any disadvantage, such as dismissal. The works council also currently has the right of consent regarding the amendment, adoption or withdrawal of a whistleblowers’ scheme.
In a previous blog, we wrote about the changes to legislation regarding the protection of whistleblowers. In December 2022 and January 2023, the Lower House and Upper House agreed to the changes, meaning that employers will have to deal with more far-reaching requirements and additional employee protection. Some of the main changes:
Furthermore, the following changes are important for employers:
Employers must adapt existing internal whistleblower reporting schemes to the new legal requirements by 17 December 2023. The works council or employee representation therefore has the right of consent in this respect. If an employer fails to do so, the employer will not be fined or otherwise sanctioned.
Indirectly, however, the employer may be affected, because if an internal whistleblower reporting policy is missing or outdated, an employee or the works council can take this to court. In any case, this will not be good for the company’s reputation. And if a reporter feels he/she is not being treated well and the lack of a proper reporting system is a factor in this, that can still lead to compensation and further damage to the employer’s reputation.
Employers with 50-249 employees, including temporary workers, will therefore have to adjust their internal reporting procedures in the coming months in response to the expected entry into force of the new law on 17 December 2023. It is still unclear when the stricter requirements will apply to companies with more than 250 employees. But it is certain that the new reporting procedure and extra protection against disadvantage will also apply to large employers. That means that all employers should review their existing whistleblowers’ schemes. And where necessary, they should adjust them in time to avoid any reputational damage!
Do you have questions about the adaptation of whistleblowers’ scheme to new law? Do you have any other questions about the above? Then please do not hesitate to contact us.
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