Protection for people who reveal abuses in their companies: That is the goal of the whistleblower law. The federal government has also set up a corresponding office.
Since the so-called whistleblower law came into force, the federal government’s newly created external reporting office has received more than 100 reports.
As a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice announced upon request, the reporting office at the Federal Office of Justice received a total of 113 reports from the beginning of July to September 12th. According to the information, most of these were received via an online form.
The reporting office’s advisory services are also widely used, said the spokeswoman. She also pointed out that the federal government’s external reporting office maintains a “regular professional exchange” with the whistleblower offices of the Federal Cartel Office and the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.
The Whistleblower Protection Act came into force on July 2nd. It is intended to protect people who expose abuses from dismissal and harassment. Authorities and companies must create contact points that receive reports of fraud, corruption or violations of animal welfare or environmental protection rules. With the law, a corresponding EU directive was implemented late.
Internal or external messages possible
According to the law, authorities and companies with more than 50 employees must create contact points that confidentially receive and process reports from whistleblowers. Anyone who violates the law faces a fine of up to 50,000 euros.
In addition, the external reporting office was created at the Federal Office of Justice, where eleven people are currently employed, some of them part-time. The reporting office is also supported by the IT department and other employees of the Federal Office. The law allows whistleblowers to decide whether they report violations internally or externally.
In its online form, the federal reporting office warns against false accusations. The instructions for filling out the information state, among other things: “Please also note that the protection of the Whistleblower Protection Act, for example against reprisals due to a report, only applies if you had sufficient reason to believe at the time of the report that the information you reported was true .” Intentionally providing false information could also result in criminal penalties.
Deadline for internal reporting offices
According to the Federal Ministry of Justice, it has no information on the number of reports received by internal reporting offices from companies and authorities since the law came into force.
“The establishment of internal reporting offices is in the employer’s own interest, as this is the only way they have the opportunity to remedy a violation internally and it is not reported directly to an external reporting office and thus communicated to the outside world,” the ministry said.
Companies with up to 249 employees have until December 17, 2023 to set up internal reporting points. You can also operate a joint reporting office with other companies. The aim is to make it easier for companies to set up internal reporting points by allowing third parties to be commissioned with this task or by having it centrally located within the group at the parent company. The law provides for a fine for employers who do not comply with the obligation to set up internal reporting offices.