What lies ahead for companies and what to do now
The German Bundestag passed the German Whistleblower Protection Act on 16 December 2022. After initially not being expected to be passed this year, the bill did make it onto the agenda of the last session day of the year at short notice and was passed in a version amended by the Legal Affairs Committee (Rechtsausschuss) with the coalition’s majority. The next step is for the Bundesrat to approve the bill. However, this is not expected until the first plenary session in February 2023 at the earliest.
Key points of the law
- Companies with at least 250 employees are obliged to set up an internal reporting system when the law comes into force. For companies with 50 to 249 employees, this obligation will apply from 17 December 2023.
- Whistleblowers shall be comprehensively protected, in particular against reprisals. Any discrimination against a whistleblower in connection with a report is prohibited. The burden of proof lies with the companies.
- Whistleblowers are free to choose whether to report internally or externally. Public disclosures are only permitted in exceptional cases.
- Corporate groups can implement an internal reporting office at the group level.
- Companies must now also provide reporting channels for anonymous reports and process anonymous incoming reports – but here there is a longer implementation deadline of 2025, regardless of the size of the companies.
- The law enters into force three months after promulgation.
Click here to access the full alert.