Compromise agreed: Bundestag votes to protect whistleblowers
Lately, the German Bundesrat unanimously passed a law to protect whistleblowers. The package of measures passed aims to protect whistleblowers who uncover wrongdoing in public authorities and companies from dismissal and harassment.
In addition, authorities and companies must set up contact points to receive reports of fraud, corruption and violations of animal welfare and environmental protection regulations. Violators of the law face fines of up to 50,000 euros.
Benjamin Strasser, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice, emphasized in the final debate that this was not about denunciation and trivia, but about swiftly remedying serious grievances. Originally, the Bundestag had already passed an initial bill shortly before Christmas. However, the Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament) halted the bill at the time due to fears from the CDU/CSU-governed states that smaller companies would be overly burdened. A compromise was then worked out in the Mediation Committee of the Bundestag and Bundesrat.
During the debate in the Bundestag, leading CDU politicians emphasized that the mediation committee had removed elements from the original draft that would have meant additional work and costs for companies without offering whistleblowers any added value. The compromise stipulates that whistleblowers must primarily contact internal reporting offices. The requirement to offer an anonymous reporting channel was removed. Benjamin Strasser explained in the Bundesrat that many companies, however, had already made it possible to receive anonymous tips.
EU directive finally implemented
The law implements an EU directive into national law. Due to delays on the part of Germany, infringement proceedings have already been initiated against the Federal Republic.
In our Compliance Channel you will find two e-learnings on the Whistleblower Protection Act and an explanation of the term whistleblowing in general. Please contact us if you are interested in demo version of the e-learnings.