Is it safe to be a whistleblower?
The concept of "whistleblower" is relatively new when it comes to the European labor market. In the United States, the term has been known and used for several decades, and most people are very familiar with the role of the whistleblower. In Europe, however, this is a relatively fresh concept and is still associated with a certain amount of uncertainty and fear.
Will reporting misconduct have unpleasant consequences?
Many people, before they report any misconduct happening in their workplace, or notice the fault of another employee, wonder whether it is better to keep silent about everything or report it to the appropriate people in the company who will be able to deal with the problem. Very often, employees are afraid of becoming a whistleblower and give up reporting, being afraid of unpleasant consequences. Fear of the critical gaze of other employees, the fear of losing trust or the fear of dismissal - these are just some of the feelings that accompany whistleblowers. Taking the right step is not easy, but it is worth remembering that the appropriate whistleblowing system protects whistleblowers and their identity, personal data and what they have signaled against unauthorized access.
On December 17, 2021, Directive 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 23, 2019 on the protection of persons reporting breaches of EU law - the Whistleblower Protection Directive. This means that from that day on, the identity of the persons reporting the observed misconduct is secured. As a result, any behavior that may be treated as retaliation - dismissal, intimidation, mobbing, change of remuneration and working conditions, etc., is illegal. However, it is important that a company that wants to provide appropriate working conditions for its employees takes care of a safe system for reporting irregularities. The employer must be aware that as the administrator of the personal data obtained (both the whistleblower and the witnesses or the accused) must comply with the GDPR, and the personal data obtained through the whistleblowing system are confidential and can only be used by employees designated for this, who deal with the investigation process and the resolution of whistleblower concerns. Otherwise, the employer is exposed to significant financial penalties and civil lawsuits.