What is the EU whistleblowing directive?

The EU whistleblowing directive is the European Union’s protocol for protecting whistleblowers who report business practices that violate EU law. The European Union adopted this directive in October 2019 to ensure that employees working in the private and public sectors could speak out without facing retaliation from their employer. 

The EU whistleblowing directive:

  • Requires companies to implement safe communication channels for employees to disclose information 
  • Protects whistleblowers against “dismissal, demotion, and other forms of retaliation”  
  • Ensures that national authorities “inform citizens and provide training for public authorities” on how successfully to handle a whistleblowing predicament 

Why should HR leaders care about the EU whistleblowing directive?

As the guardians of employee wellbeing, HR leaders must be vigilant of legislation that directly impacts personnel and company success.

Building an easy to use, effective whistleblowing system that aligns with the directive helps companies:

  • Nurture a culture in which employees feel safe speaking up
  • Establish brand integrity 
  • Encourage just business practices while avoiding misconduct

What can HR leaders do to support the implementation of the EU whistleblowing directive?

HR leaders can incorporate these practices to support their company in smoothly integrating the EU whistleblowing directive:

  • Learn the laws. HR leaders must familiarize themselves with the legislation. They need to understand the requirements for internal reporting channels, the whistleblower criteria, and the procedure for receiving and responding to, not retaliating to a whistleblower report. 
  • Establish communication channels. Employers are obligated to offer employees different methods of disclosing confidential information while maintaining their anonymity. Various reporting options should be available such as in person, through the internal company hotline, or via its intranet system. The reporting channels should be user-friendly to encourage employees to report internally, rather than resorting to exposing company misconduct to the public eye. 
  • Nurture trust and respect in the workplace. To reduce the chances of whistleblowing altogether, firms can develop a culture that prioritizes truth, respect, justice, and equality. An organizational culture founded on integrity that promotes psychological safety enables employees to speak up when businesses breach lawful conduct. 
  • Fine-tune the whistleblowing policy. Organizations must determine and explain their policies while still adhering to the rigorous requirements of the EU directive. 
  • Educate managers and leadership. Senior leadership should be on board with the whistleblower protection initiative to ensure the company upholds its responsibilities and does not retaliate against employees who have disclosed information. 

How can adhering to the EU whistleblowing directive improve company culture? 

Integrating the EU whistleblowing directive does impose greater stringencies on organizations. Yet, this legislation can spur businesses to develop a robust policy that promotes legitimate business practices and a culture that values employee opinions and wellbeing.