Since the inception of the European Union’s Whistleblowing Directive in 2019, we have seen greater scrutiny of whistleblowing practices and a number of key jurisdictions beyond Europe upgrading their whistleblowing laws. Read on for a summary of the latest developments in whistleblowing laws across the globe.
We have deep expertise in advising employers across the globe on key employment, privacy and compliance issues that arise when implementing whistleblowing policies, rolling out whistleblowing hotline systems, and handling whistleblowing-related complaints. We provide globally coordinated on-the-ground support, and we can help you benchmark your approach based on our combined experience of working with a wide variety of organizations in implementing whistleblowing regimes.
For more information, contact your Baker McKenzie relationship partner or send a general inquiry to our team here. To find out more about our EU Whistleblower Directive Fixed Fee Product, click here.
In Asia Pacific, towards the tail end of 2021, Australia’s corporate regulator began ramping up its review of corporations’ whistleblowing policies to check compliance with Australia’s amended Corporations Act. Meanwhile, Japan is set to enforce its amended Whistleblower Protection Act in June 2022, mandating organizations of a certain size to implement whistleblowing systems. In Hong Kong, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited amended its Corporate Governance Code to include provisions on the implementation of a whistleblowing policy and system for employees in tandem with anti-corruption policies, which came into force on January 1, 2022.
- Australia: Australian Securities and Investments Commission releases open letter regarding compliant whistleblowing policies
In October 2021, Australia’s corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), wrote an open letter to public companies urging them to review their whistleblowing policies to ensure they are compliant with the Corporations Act. ASIC has advised that many policies it has reviewed do not fulfill the objective of encouraging employees to report issues and/or do not accurately present the information required to be included.
- Hong Kong: SEHK updates Listing Rules to highlight the importance of whistleblowing and anti-corruption policies as part of good corporate governance among issuers
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited has amended its Listing Rules, including the Corporate Governance Code (CG Code), to enhance the corporate governance framework and promote good governance among issuers. Whistleblowing, anti-corruption policies and systems are now a CG Code provision, rather than only a recommended best practice.
In June 2022, amendments to the Whistleblower Protection Act (Amended WPA), a law that protects employees who have reported violations of certain laws specified in the WPA, are expected to come into force. Amongst other items, the Amended WPA includes a mandatory obligation for companies of a certain size to establish a whistleblowing system with the aim of ensuring the protection of whistleblowers.
In Europe, member states including Cyprus, Denmark, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Sweden have implemented the Directive into national law, while most remaining EU member states still have pending draft legislation in relation to the Directive, with at least six member states expected to implement their laws within the first half of 2022. For example, Spain recently introduced a draft law on the protection of informants, which is yet to be brought into force.
The EU WBD (i) provides robust anti-retaliation protection to whistleblowers who report certain breaches of EU law and (ii) sets out a framework for internal and external reporting, with strict procedural requirements and time frames. Organizations should map the EU WBD requirements against existing speak-up channels and investigation protocols and procedures, and identify any gaps. They should also carefully monitor implementation by EU Member States because there will be areas of gold-plating/divergence in local laws, as we’ve seen in the Danish and Swedish implementation.
To help you get started in planning your organization’s whistleblowing regime, we can provide your company with a multijurisdictional analysis matrix covering five key areas. For a fixed fee per jurisdiction, we offer jurisdiction-specific data sheets that provide answers to questions about the Directive’s scope and implementation requirements for internal procedures, protection of whistleblowers, and data privacy issues. Check out this template to see what questions are covered.
For more information about this product, or to arrange a discussion with one of our colleagues, click here.
With greater scrutiny around compliance programs in Latin America, for example in Peru, the importance of whistleblower hotlines and robust internal investigations systems cannot be underestimated.
A quick guide to workplace investigations in Latin America that covers both the labor and compliance perspectives throughout seven jurisdictions.
This guide provides a user friendly overview of the most relevant legal aspects relating to workplace investigations in Brazil.
- Chile: Market transparency law published
On April 13, 2021, Law No. 21,314 was published, which establishes new transparency requirements and strengthens the responsibilities of market players. Essentially, this law amends Decree-Law No. 3,538, adding a new Title VII entitled “Of the Anonymous Whistleblower.”
- Chile: New whistleblower protection
A bill (bulletin N° 13565-07) establishing a new protection statute in favor of the whistleblower of acts against administrative probity is currently in Congress. It is not known when it could become law.
In the United States, New York’s amended whistleblowing law came into force on January 26th, affording expanded protections in favor of employees.
- US, UK and EU: Whistleblower developments for multinational employers
The latest episode of our video chat series provides an overview of the changing landscape of whistleblower protections in the US, UK and European Union.
In November 2021, New York amended its whistleblower law, New York Labor Law §740. The amendments went into effect on January 26, 2022, and provide significant expansions in favor of employees.