Whistleblowing regulations are changing, and it is crucial for organisations to keep up. We had a conversation with Maurice Canisius, CEO of SpeakUp, breaking down new emerging laws and regulations that impacts whistleblowing.
Maurice Canisius attained his PhD and LLM in Corporate Law from Maastricht University and has extensive experience working as a corporate lawyer and is a governance, risk, and compliance specialist.
Here are some insights into the future of whistleblowing laws and regulations from a legal perspective.
What's new in whistleblowing laws and regulations?
In 2024, significant changes in whistleblowing laws are on the horizon. With the advent of the EU Whistleblowing Directive and other global legal transformations, regulatory frameworks are intensifying. The upcoming laws is set to bring significant changes for whistleblowers.
For example, the Hinweisgeberschutzgesetz (HinSchG) act, also known as the Whistleblower Protection Act in Germany, came into force on July 2, 2023. Companies with 50 or more employees must have set up whistleblowing systems within a transition period till December 17, 2023.
The HinSchG aims to encourage transparency and to protect individuals who report wrongdoing by shielding them from retaliation.
Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)
The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will compel large companies to report on sustainability matters, including their adverse impacts and actions taken to mitigate them.
Companies are also obliged to publicly report grievances raised under this directive, making it imperative that effective whistleblowing systems are in place.
Furthermore, the NIS2 Directive will enhance cybersecurity across the EU, introducing stricter incident reporting requirements and security measures that companies must implement.
This directive prescribes that entities must report incidents to the supervisory authority within 24 hours. This could affect whistleblowers, potentially leading to more secure and increased reporting of the information they submit.
Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG)
Along with this, larger companies in Germany, with over 1,000 employees, will also adhere to the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG). With these developments, there is an increased focus on supply chain transparency and data security, preparing for the EU AI regulation coming in 2025.
Why you should not complicate things for whistleblowers
When we talk about whistleblowing mechanisms, in the end it can be complex; it affects employment laws, cybersecurity, anti-bribery laws etc.
Overcomplicating things might scare whistleblowers off, which essentially helps no one. While compliance with an increasing array of regulations is imperative, it's equally critical to maintain simplicity and user-friendliness.
Therefore, a streamlined approach that respects the whistleblower's intent and eases the reporting process is necessary.
Advice: How to navigate future whistleblowing laws and regulations?
Ultimately, you must consider whether a whistleblowing system with numerous legal requirements is practical if it deters people from using it.
Such a system might be fully compliant, but if it is a maze to navigate, it may never be used in the event of a misconduct.
This can in turn be the reason why it harms the organisation's reputation and reels in legal consequences.
The alternative is to aim for a balanced system that meets legal standards but is intuitive to use. In our view, a system that people can and will use is the better choice.
“Whistleblowing is often seen as an act of last resort that involves the media, but we believe it should be about empowering employees to voice concerns within their own organisation. By doing so, we aim to support the individual and protect the organisation, creating a situation where everyone wins. At SpeakUp, our goal is to prevent individuals from feeling the need to become whistleblowers in the traditional sense; we want them to feel safe to speak up internally." Maurice Canisius, CEO SpeakUp
Building a culture in which speaking up is the norm
In today's fast-moving digital world where headlines of organisational misconduct are rapidly populating the news, creating a strong culture of ethics is crucial. And this starts when people have trust in their organisations that they won’t face retaliation if they spoke up.
SpeakUp provides the tools you need to lower the barrier to reporting misconduct, which in turn can prevent the need for going public, protecting individuals and the organisation's good name.
With two decades of experience solving the whistleblowing dilemma, SpeakUp is dedicated to helping organisations become more transparent and harness a true speak up culture.
It is not just about following rules, but about making it safer, and easier to voice concerns before it gets too late.