LEGALLY COMPLIANT AND FEASIBLE – THE SERVICES OF RATISBONA COMPLIANCE
Since 2019, European directive on whistleblower protection (RL EU 2019/1937) is in force. Until December 17, 2021, EU member states had time to transpose the directive into national laws. Germany has not done so. A one-to-one implementation of the EU requirements was not sufficient for the German government. In the coalition agreement, the SPD, Gruene and FDP defined the "legally secure and practicable implementation of the EU Whistleblower Directive." A national version has been available since mid-April 2022 as a legislative proposal from the Federal Ministry of Justice. The law came into force on July 2, 2023 and obliges organizations with more than 249 employees to operate internal reporting offices that whistleblowers can use to report violations of the law. For companies and authorities with 50 or more employees, the law will apply from December 17, 2023.
why RATISBONA COMPLIANCE
Ratisbona Compliance is more than a reporting channel. It combines the advantages of a digital whistleblower system with the special position of trust occupied by lawyers. With the Ratisbona Compliance system, you fulfill your obligation to implement an independent internal whistleblowing system and thus create maximum protection for yourself, your company and your employees.
Our lawyers are experienced compliance specialists. We analyze the legal relevance of notifications received and answer whistleblowers’ questions in connection with the report. In this way, we establish a trusting dialog and thus achieve an optimal result for all parties.
ANONYMOUS AND CONFIDENTIAL
Both the identity of the whistleblower and the information provided are treated anonymously and confidentially. A client relationship exists between your company and the legal experts of Ratisbona Compliance.
ACCESSIBLE WITH CERTAINTY
With Ratisbona Compliance’s software, you offer whistleblowers a secure and permanently available communication channel. Our lawyers are also available by phone and in person.
ADDITIONAL SHIELD OF PROTECTION
Legal violations in companies are often first noticed by employees. Fearing dismissal or a warning, many do not dare to report the violation. The Whistleblower Directive changed that. With the whistleblower system of Ratisbona Compliance you provide your employees and all third parties with a confidential reporting channel to uncover omissions and mistakes at an early stage. This gives you the opportunity to react in time to prevent damage to yourself and your company.
MORE TIME FOR YOUR CORE BUSINESS
We preserve your resources. With Ratisbona Compliance on your side, you do not need to create an independent internal unit in your company to implement the policy. All reporting and notification obligations are handled by our experts. We cover your back.
THIS HAPPENS AFTER A NOTIFICATION: THE RATISBONA COMPLIANCE PROCESSING WORKFLOW
WHY SET UP REPORTING CHANNELS?
In their coalition agreement, the three parties SPD, Grüne and FDP agreed in November 2021 to implement the EU Whistleblower Directive “in a legally secure and practicable manner” and clearly positioned themselves in favor of whistleblower protection: The German government wanted to go well beyond the minimum requirements of the Mindestanforderungen der European Union Directive 2019/1937 and extend the scope of application to national law.
The EU Whistleblower Directive originally had to be transposed into national law by December 17, 2021. Germany – like many other EU countries – failed to implement the directive within this deadline. On July 27, 2022, the German Cabinet approved a government draft, thus initiating the legislative process. On Thursday, September 29, 2022, the Bundestag debated for the first time a draft act of the German government for better protection of whistleblowers and for the implementation of the Directive on the protection of persons who report violations of Union law. The Bundestag passed the law on December 16, 2022. The German Whistleblower Protection Act is therefore expected to enter into force in 2023 after the approval of the Bundesrat. If affected companies and organizations fail to implement the legal obligation to set up an internal reporting office, they run the risk of being fined. The amount of the fine can be up to 20,000 euros. Companies, authorities, associations and NGOs should therefore definitely use the remaining time to introduce a reporting channel that complies with the directive.
RESPONSIBILITIES FOR ORGANIZATIONS
Organizations with 50 or more employees must establish secure reporting channels through which a whistleblower can report violations. The process for submitting a notice must be available verbally or in a written form and, if desired, in person. The reporting office must confirm receipt of the notification to the whistleblower within seven days and, in addition, the confidentiality of the notification must be protected. All data contained in the report must comply with the requirement of the GDPR. Likewise, the must inform the whistleblower within three months of what action has been taken as a result.
RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PUBLIC AUTHORITIES, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND THE NON-PROFIT SECTOR
The obligation to establish reporting channels also applies to the public sector. All legal entities under public law are affected (public bodies and institutions, trusts under public law), including companies under private law owned by the public sector (e.g. municipal operating companies). Municipalities are also obligated. The EU allows municipalities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants or fewer than 50 employees to be exempt from the establishment requirement.
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL WHISTLEBLOWING OFFICES ON AN EQUAL FOOTING
In terms of whistleblower protection, the EU Directive does not distinguish between an internal and an external reporting office. Whistleblowers are free to decide whether they want to make internal reports or provide information via the external reporting office. Internal whistleblowing offices therefore no longer have priority over external whistleblowing offices as before. Every whistleblower has full whistleblower protection (e.g. protection from labor law measures in connection with the whistleblowing). Only reporting to the general public without protection is justified if previous attempts via internal reporting and reporting to authorities have failed to result in appropriate responses.
„Around 90 percent of all whistleblowers first try to address the observed malpractice internally before turning to authorities, the media or the public - provided they find suitable channels and an open culture within the company.“
The equal status of internal and external reporting implies a risk for companies that the whistleblower will contact competent authorities directly, especially since many authorities already provide digital whistleblower portals with optimal identity protection. If the whistleblower chooses initial contact via the authorities, there is no opportunity for the company to make internal efforts to clarify the facts and initiate follow-up measures if necessary.
By having a high-quality, confidential whistleblower system that is easily accessible to the whistleblower, companies promote a culture of open communication within the company. Experience shows that the whistleblower tends to use the existing internal channel. This is precisely what Ratisbona Compliance offers – it provides whistleblowers with a simple and secure way to communicate malpractice and protects companies by providing time and an internal setting to respond appropriately to tips.