Whistleblowing articles and news

The Whistleblower Protection Act
  • Legal

Whistleblowing in the USA: A Guide to Legal Protections and Best Practices

Whistleblowing is the process where an employee or any other individual in an organization reports an instance of wrongdoing or criminality. In the past, this was done through offline means such as a phone line, trust box, or in person, whereas these days, whistleblowing reports are often submitted through a piece of whistleblowing software, such as FaceUp. Whistleblowing platforms have many other uses for businesses, such as case management, surveys, questionnaires, employee feedback and so on. How does whistleblowing protection work in the USA?In the EU, whistleblowing protection is relatively universal thanks to the EU Whistleblowing Directive (2019), whilst whistleblowing protection in the USA is patchier and is dependent on the sector in which you work and what it is you wish to report. The Whistleblower Protection Act The Whistleblower Protection Act (1989) is the broadest piece of legislation introduced in the US, but it does not provide protection for all whistleblowers, far from it. The Whistleblower Protection Act only protects federal employees, although private sector workers may be protected under topic-specific federal laws, like the Occupational Safety and Health Act, but only a small section of unlawful activity is covered by such laws. Private sector workers do not enjoy any kind of whistleblowing protection if they are reporting violations of federal laws with no whistleblower protection or state law. However, there may be some protection for them under local laws. Moreover, in the US, union officials are exempted from whistleblower laws. What is the best practice in terms of whistleblowing in the US?Whislteblowers.org lists the four following steps as best practice for whistleblowing law in the US, which companies could introduce independently if they so wish. They are: Confidentiality - A common thread throughout whistleblowing protection legislation, anonymity/confidentiality has the twin benefit of protecting whistleblowers from retaliation and encouraging them to speak up in the first place.Offering a reward - In many cases, whistleblowers provide information which allows prosecutors to recuperate money. It is advised that whistleblowers are offering a portion of this money as a reward for their courage and to encourage others to follow suit. Remediation in cases of retaliation - These are measures to mitigate the damages a whistleblower may face after speaking out. They include back pay, being reinstated in their job if unfairly fired, front pay (when finding a new job), out of pocket losses, and so on.Independent reporting channels - Allows whistleblowers to submit reports to a neutral third-party.Even though the legal provision for whistleblowing is less universal in the USA than in other parts of the world, implementing a whistleblowing system is still hugely advantageous for private companies. Some of the benefits for US companies to implement a whistleblowing platform include: Prevention of legal disputesImprovement of company cultureProtection of the company’s reputationIncreased productivityIncreased customer trustMay be an investor requirementWhat is protected disclosure?Where whistleblower protections do exist, a protected disclosure is anything that a whistleblower reports that they reasonably believe is evidence of a violation of any law, regulation, or rule, or represents gross mismanagement or waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. What is the best whistleblowing solution for US companies?Choosing a suitable whistleblowing platform for your organization is not always an easy task. As a general rule of thumb, good platforms include the following key features (not an exhaustive list): Reporting formsAnonymityUser-friendly UX/UIHigh security (E2EE, 2FA, penetration testing)CustomizationTwo-way communicationFor a reasonably priced, feature-rich system with the highest level of security and usability, why not give FaceUp reporting tool a try? Book a consultation with our specialist today. 
3 min read
whistleblowing policy in company
  • Corporate culture
  • Whistleblowing

Why a Whistleblowing Policy is Essential for Every Company

As the world places more and more emphasis on open and ethical business practices, having a clear whistleblowing policy in place has become critical. When they are developed and implemented properly, whistleblowing policies give employees a clear path to report problems, reduce or eliminate fallout from internal issues, and promote and protect a culture of transparency and accountability in the workplace.  Key features of a successful whistleblowing policyConfidentiality: When employees don’t feel protected, they stay silent. Your policy should ensure that employee reports are only shared with people who are in a position to address the issues raised. You should also, if possible, provide anonymous reporting options. Protection against retaliation: Employees need to know that if they come forward with a complaint, they will be protected from harassment or job loss. Your whistleblowing policy should explicitly state that internal retaliation will not be tolerated, and it should detail employees’ legal rights if they choose to report an issue.   Clear reporting procedures: Employees should know how to report their concerns, including who to contact, what information to provide, and the timeline for response and resolution.  Processes for resolution: Employees should know what to expect after they report an issue. Your policy should outline the process for investigating and resolving reports in a fair and impartial manner while respecting the rights of both the whistleblower and the accused. Implementing your whistleblowing policyImplementing a whistleblowing policy will look different for every company. Whatever the design of your policy, employees must have all the information they need to step forward. Educating employees can take various forms, including printed materials, emails, and training sessions. Make sure employees know how to make reports, what protections they are entitled to, and what counts as reportable conduct.   Creating and implementing a whistleblowing policy shouldn’t be seen as a one-off process. Change is inevitable in every company and your policy should follow suit. It should be regularly updated to evolve with your organization. Need a whistleblowing policy template to get started? If you need help creating a whistleblowing policy for your company, we encourage you to download our whistleblowing policy template. The template outlines universal issues or concerns that should be reported and can be easily adapted for your company’s needs.  Let us show you FaceUp in action
2 min read
ISO 37301, ISO 37001, IATF 16949, TISAX, SMETA
  • Legal
  • Whistleblowing
  • Compliance

Standards and certifications that require the introduction of a whistleblowing system

There are a variety of standards and certifications which your organization can apply to ensure that your workplace and processes are ethical, transparent and responsible. Many require or suggest the implementation of whistleblowing system, such as the following:  ISO 37301ISO 37301 was introduced by the International Organization for Standardization in April 2021 and sets out guidance on implementing a compliance management system (CMS). It is based on widely accepted principles of good governance, proportionality, transparency and sustainability. One of the key aims of ISO 37301 is to outline the best practice when implementing a whistleblowing policy. These include: Timely and thorough investigation of allegations or suspicions of misconduct.A visible and accessible whistleblowing system.Confidential, anonymous reporting channels.Impartial investigations of any reports of unethical conduct.Comprehensive documentation of reports made.Recording of any lessons learnt changes to the CMS.ISO 37001Published in 2016, ISO 37001 provides guidance and details requirements for the setup and maintenance of an anti-bribery system. ISO 37001 is designed to help combat instances of bribery in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, perpetrated by individuals within the organization, as well as those acting on its behalf, plus a host of other scenarios. ISO 37001 is only intended for use as part of an anti-bribery system, but its recommendations are deliberately generic as to be applicable for any nature of organization.  The introduction of a whistleblowing system in your organization is crucial for complying with ISO37001. Requirement no. 18 specifically calls for the implementation of a whistleblowing system: ‘Implement reporting (whistle-blowing) procedures which encourage and enable persons to report suspected bribery, or any violation of or weakness in the ABMS, to the compliance function or to appropriate personnel’. IATF 16949IATF 16949 is a standard published by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) and the Technical Committee of ISO, to be used in the creation of a quality management system to allow for ongoing improvement in the automotive industry supply and assembly process. The standard was updated in 2016 to include a stipulation for a whistleblowing policy. The updated version states: ‘[Organizations] shall define and implement corporate responsibility policies, including at a minimum an anti-bribery policy, an employee code of conduct, and an ethics escalation (whistle-blowing) policy.’ TISAXTISAX (Trusted Information Security Assessment Exchange) stipulates the standards for information security management systems within the automotive industry and is now commonplace across Europe. Its requirements are very similar to ISO 27001, differing mainly in the fact that TISAX is designed specifically for the automotive industry, whereas ISO 27001 is a more generalized standard. ISO 27001 focuses on data security within an organization, TISAX secures data throughout the supply chain. SMETASMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit) is not a standard as such, but an audit that your organization can request to help you understand labor, health and safety, environmental and ethical standards within your workplace. After the audit, organizations receive an action plan designed to help them take corrective steps. The audit comprises two mandatory pillars, Labor Standards and Healthy & Safety. The two non-compulsory pillars are Business Ethics and Environment.  Sedex recommends providing whistleblowing hotlines across your supply chain, particularly to combat modern slavery. Other standards and certificationsRead about other standards and certifications and how they relate to whistleblowing in our previous blog posts: Whistleblowing guidelines: what you need to know about ISO 37002Whistleblowing requirements and the SA8000How whistleblowing can help improve your company's ESG scoreGet in touch and see how FaceUp whistleblowing system can meet your whistleblowing needs. 
3 min read
Whistleblowing requirements and the SA8000
  • Legal
  • Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing requirements and the SA8000

Social Accountability International (SAI) is a global non-government organization that protects and advances human rights at work. The Library of Congress in the United States includes the SAI as one of the recommended organizations providing policies and guidelines for socially responsible companies. And GOV.UK, the official website of the UK government, mentions the SAI’s workplace certification, the SA8000 as one of two audits that can be used to combat modern slavery in government supply chains.     Benefits of getting an SA8000 certificateThe SA8000 certification measures organizational practices according to nine criteria: Child LabourForced or Compulsory Labour Health and SafetyFreedom of Association & Right to Collective BargainingDiscriminationDisciplinary PracticesWorking HoursRemunerationManagement System Organizations that apply for an SA8000 certificate signal to stakeholders and the public that they are committed to creating work environments that protect and promote human rights. Having an SA8000 certification also shows potential investors that your organization is a safe investment.  As ESG (Environmental, social, and corporate governance) investing becomes more prevalent, organizations are under increased pressure to ensure that they are above board and operating ethically. The SA8000 is one of the most well-known certifications for ensuring that commitment.    SA8000 whistleblowing requirementsThe SA8000 requires that a company has a written complaint system. This grievance process must be easily accessible, for employees and other interested parties to make complaints, comments, recommendations, or reports about the workplace or violations of SA8000 standards. The SA8000 also specifies that the complaint system must be unbiased, confidential, and non-retaliatory. Once a report is received, the organization needs to have a clearly outlined process for investigating and following up on complaints concerning the workplace or non-conformance to the SA8000 guidelines.  The results of the investigation and response must be freely available to all personnel and interested parties upon request. Finally, The SA8000 makes it clear that the organization can’t in any way punish, dismiss, or discriminate against a member of staff if they choose to make a complaint. Do you need an internal complaints system for the SA8000?FaceUp is an intuitive effective whistleblowing system that matches all of these requirements. FaceUp makes it easy to track reports and respond to issues quickly within your organization. Available in 113 languages, the platform takes minutes to integrate into your organization and makes collecting reports and responding to workplace issues much easier. Get in touch and see how FaceUp whistleblowing system can meet your whistleblowing needs. 
2 min read
EU Whistleblowing Directive
  • Whistleblowing

What is the EU Whistleblowing Directive?

The subject of whistleblowing has been gaining traction in recent years, with both companies and the authorities looking for ways to protect whistleblowers when they speak up about unethical conduct in their workplace. To that end, the EU introduced its EU Whistleblowing Directive 2019 (also known as EU Directive 2019/1937), which aims to standardise the amount of protection afforded to whistleblowers across member states.  What does the EU Whistleblowing Directive cover?Under the Directive, organizations must:  Provide an internal whistleblowing channel (like FaceUp 🙂!)Educate employees and other stakeholders about whistleblowing optionsProtect whistleblowers who report breaches, andPrevent them from retaliationIt’s important to note that this is a directive, not a regulation (like GDPR), which means it is left up to individual member states how they go about applying it. The Whistleblowing Directive acts as a minimum standard of protection for whistleblowers. Countries or individual companies may go even further if they wish. When does the EU Whistleblowing Directive come into effect?The EU Whistleblowing Directive was adopted on 23 October 2019 and came into force on 16 December 2019, meaning that member states had until 17 December 2021 to transpose it into their national laws, although many missed this deadline.  Organizations with 50-249 workers have until 17 December 2023 to implement internal reporting channels. Who is protected and who has to comply?Simply put, the Directive protects anyone who has a ‘work-based relationship’ with an organization. The scope is broad and covers all manner of paid and unpaid workers, from full-time employees to freelancers, suppliers and subcontractors.  The Directive applies to all companies with more than 50 employees or with an annual turnover or assets totalling more than 10 million EUR. It also applies to local authorities which serve more than 10,000 people. How FaceUp can help your company comply with the EU Whistleblowing Directive Complying with the Directive may seem confusing and overwhelming. Fortunately, FaceUp has you covered. By using our whistleblowing platform, you can be assured that you are complying with the Directive’s stipulations through our anonymous and secure internal reporting channel, with the option of appointing an impartial assignee to receive and investigate reports.Check out all the FaceUp features which help you comply with the Whistleblowing Directive.  Do you need advice on how to effectively introduce a whistleblowing system? 
2 min read
La protezione del whistleblower
  • Whistleblowing
  • Legal

La protezione del whistleblower: The EU Whistleblowing Directive is Coming to Italy

On December 9th, 2022, the Italian Government approved a draft implementing the EU Whistleblowing Directive into national law.    The draft expands the retaliation protection for whistleblowers in Italy. Previously, only employees were protected from retaliation. Now the list of those protected after making a report includes: self-employed workers, external workers, shareholders, facilitators of the whistleblowing process, paid and unpaid trainees and even third-party members such as the whistleblower’s colleagues and relatives.   The new law is expected to affect all private sector organizations with 50 or more employees. These organizations must install internal and external whistleblowing channels which ensure the whistlelblower’s confidentiality should they come forward.  Is your organization ready for the new Italian law?  The EU Whistleblowing Directive will take effect in Italy soon. Get a secure and anonymous whistleblowing channel to meet the legislative requirements of Italy and help whistleblowers speak up. Do you need advice on how to effectively introduce a whistleblowing platform in Italy? Sources:  https://www.whistleblowingmonitor.eu/country/italyhttps://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d003706d-7bcc-4a33-897d-381e77fda723https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=304bcca7-5449-486d-b1cb-cb5800201593
1 min read
Whistleblower laki Finland
  • Whistleblowing
  • Legal

Whistleblower-laki: The EU Whistleblowing Directive in Finland

Finland’s Whistleblower Act went into effect on January 1st, 2023. Private sector employers with at least 250 employees and public sector employers with 50 or more employees will be required to set up a whistleblowing channel by April 1st, 2023.  Private sector organizations with 50-249 employees will have until December 17th, 2023 to put a whistleblowing channel in place.  The Finnish government will allow certain organizations to have joint whistleblowing channels that receives notifications, verifies their validity and/or carries out investigations to ascertain their validity. However, this does not excuse individual organizations from their legal obligations.  Finally, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice in Finland established an external reporting channel for whistleblowers on the 1st of January 2023. Is your organization ready for the new Finnish law?  Finland's new whistleblowing law went into effect on January 1st, 2023, meaning that all companies with 250 employees or more must have whistleblowing channels in place by April 1st.   Get a secure and anonymous whistleblowing channel to meet the legislative requirements of Finland and help whistleblowers speak up. Do you need advice on how to effectively introduce a whistleblowing platform in Finland? Sources:  https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2022/20221171https://raja.fi/en/whistleblower-protection#:~:text=The%20Whistleblower%20Act%20entered%20into,breach%20via%20a%20reporting%20channel.https://iuslaboris.com/insights/whistleblowing-in-finland-legislation-finally-published/?utm_source=mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_term=Employment-and-HR&utm_content=articleoriginal&utm_campaign=articlehttps://www.mondaq.com/whistleblowing/1265708/whistleblowing-in-finland-legislation-finally-published
1 min read
Belgium whistleblowing
  • Whistleblowing
  • Legal

Belgium’s New Whistleblowing Law: What You Need to Know

On December 15th 2022 Belgium passed a bill transposing the EU Whistleblowing Directive into national law.  Here is what you need to know: The law will establish 3 whistleblowing channels each with their own rules: an in-company channel, an external channel to the authorities and a channel to the press. With few exceptions, all legal entities with 50 to 249 employees will have until December 17th, 2023 to establish internal whistleblowing channels. Organizations with 250 employees or more must have these channels in place when the law enters into force on February 15th 2023.   The Belgian law provides strong protection for whistleblowers against retaliation. Awards equal to 18-26 weeks' salary will be given to employees who are punished for stepping forward. Finally, the law expands on the EU Whistleblowing Directive. In Belgium reports on tax fraud and social fraud will also be protected. Is your organization prepared?  Belgium’s new whistleblowing law will go into effect on February 15 2023, meaning that all companies with 250 employees or more must have whistleblowing channels in place by that date.   Get a secure and anonymous whistleblowing channel to meet the legislative requirements of Belgium and help whistleblowers speak up.  Do you need advice on how to effectively introduce a whistleblowing platform in Belgium? Sources https://www.brusselstimes.com/327497/whistleblowers-to-receive-improved-protection-in-belgiumhttps://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-whistleblowing-rules-for-belgium-5258202/https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e9417577-4f54-490a-8537-3a78bc428cb2https://www.lexology.com/commentary/employment-immigration/belgium/altius/belgian-whistle-blowing-act-published-in-belgian-state-gazette
1 min read

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