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Whistleblower Protection Act Faces Criticism and Challenges in Business Community

Whistleblowers should be better protected from harassment

Whistleblowers are informants who uncover abuses or crimes within companies or authorities. On the one hand, the Whistleblower Protection Act is intended to enable the identity of a whistleblower to be protected, but at the same time it prohibits retaliation by employers, such as the termination of whistleblowers if they become known. Since then, authorities and companies of a certain size have had to provide secure channels for whistleblower reports. In order to point out possible legal violations in an organization, internal reporting offices or external federal reporting offices can be used.

Companies with too little understanding of the benefits of internal reporting points

There are no official statistics on how often contact points within companies have been used for whistleblower reports since the Whistleblower Protection Act came into force. So what can be said so far about how companies deal with reporting points? Kosmas Zittel is managing director of the whistleblower network. The association offers, among other things, expert advice on whistleblowing protection for whistleblowers themselves as well as for companies, authorities and other organizations. Kosmas Zittel says: “Many companies perceive the law as an unnecessary burden. They actually only want to formally comply with the law and hire an external lawyer to act as an internal reporting point.”

Many companies do not seem to have yet realized that whistleblowers are not informers and do not have any harmful intentions. Rather, companies and society could benefit from whistleblowers by finding out about grievances at an early stage and being able to remedy them before the damage becomes too great. In addition, through good whistleblowing management, they could make their own ethical standards clear to the outside and inside. The idea behind it: By intervening early in a non-public context, liability claims as well as image damage that could be associated with external discovery can be avoided. According to Zittel, studies show that 90 percent of employees prefer to report violations internally. They didn’t want to harm the employer at all, but wanted to remedy grievances, which is usually better done within their own organization.

Many companies find the law an unnecessary burden. They actually only want to formally comply with the law and hire an external lawyer to act as an internal reporting point.

Kosmas Zittel, Managing Director of the Whistleblower Network

Controls for internal reporting offices are not required by law

According to the Whistleblower Protection Act, it is an administrative offense if an employer does not set up an internal reporting office even though it is legally obliged to do so. In this case there is a risk of a fine. According to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the law does not contain any special regulations for checking whether an internal reporting office is available. “However, the fact that whistleblowers can report directly to an external reporting office is likely to be an important incentive for companies and authorities to create a well-functioning internal reporting office,” explains Rabea Bönnighausen, spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Strong criticism from Thuringian business representatives

The MDR business editorial team asked the Central Saxon Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) what experiences their member companies have reported so far with the Whistleblower Protection Act. Sharp criticism comes primarily from Thuringia’s business community, where the whistleblower law is perceived as an unnecessary burden. “The companies feel harassed and consider the whistleblower protection law to be an unnecessary interference in the corporate culture that disrupts the company’s peace,” reports Katja Hampe, head of the public relations department at the IHK Südthüringen. According to Hampe, there are a variety of options, including electronic ones, for citizens and employees to place advertisements with criminal relevance. The general manager of the Erfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Cornelia Haase-Lerch, also says that in many companies the costs and benefits of the Whistleblower Protection Act are in stark disproportion.

2023-12-17 04:02:54
#whistleblower #tips #July #MDR.DE

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