The House for Whistleblowers Act entered into effect on 1 July 2016. This act obliges all employers with 50 or more employees to implement an internal whistleblower scheme. The purpose of the act is to ensure that wrongdoing is revealed sooner by protecting the position of whistleblowers and enabling the investigation of societal missteps.
The act is intended to apply in situations in which wrongdoing is suspected. Wrongdoing occurs when a threat is posed to society's interests due to the violation of a statutory provision, or when public health, personal safety, the environment or the proper functioning of a company are jeopardized as a result of improper acts or omissions. Examples of such wrongdoing include environmental offences, fraud, corruption and structural intimidation or discrimination.
The law stipulates a number of obligations which a whistleblower scheme must meet. It must include at least the following elements:
- a method for handling internal reports of wrongdoing
- the name of an officer to whom a suspicion of wrongdoing can be reported
- the obligation of the employer to maintain confidentiality.
Not only employees, but also self-employed persons, interns and temporary employment agency employees may derive rights from the House for Whistleblowers Act.
If an internal whistleblower scheme is already in place, we recommend that it be checked to ensure that it complies with the new legislation. If there is no whistleblower scheme currently in place, it would be wise to draw one up. Although it is not compulsory for companies with fewer than 50 employees, it is also a good idea for these companies to introduce a whistleblower scheme. Although there is no penalty for not having one, the absence of such a scheme may lead to employees reporting any wrongdoing externally or submitting a claim for damages if they consider that they do not have sufficient protection, with all the negative consequences that might result from this. Also remember that the Works Council has the right of consent with regard to the introduction of a whistleblower scheme, and ensure that the scheme is available to everyone, for example, through Intranet.
The website www.huisvoorklokkenluiders.nl has more information on this subject. Until recently, this website carried a model scheme that could be used as the basis for drawing up a whistleblower scheme. This model has been removed from the website because it was broader than that prescribed by law. Further information is expected in September 2016. Naturally, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the new law or to help you draw up or assess a whistleblower scheme.