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EU to introduce high level protection for whistleblowers

The European Commission has proposed a wide-ranging new law to strengthen protection for whistleblowers who uncover unlawful activities in their company or organisation.

It's thought the new measures are likely to be adopted by the UK as part of our future trading relationship with Europe after Brexit.

A Commission statement says recent scandals such as Dieselgate, Luxleaks, the Panama Papers and the ongoing Cambridge Analytica revelations show that whistleblowers can play an important role in uncovering unlawful activities that damage the public interest and welfare.

It says: "The new law will establish safe channels for reporting both within an organisation and to public authorities. It will also protect whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation and require national authorities to inform citizens and provide training for public authorities on how to deal with whistleblowers."

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Many recent scandals may never have come to light if insiders hadn't had the courage to speak out. But those who did took enormous risks. So, if we better protect whistleblowers, we can better detect and prevent harm to the public interest such as fraud, corruption, corporate tax avoidance or damage to people's health and the environment. There should be no punishment for doing the right thing."

The proposals ensure EU-wide protection for revealing breaches of EU legislation in public procurement, financial services, money laundering and terrorist financing, product safety, transport safety, environmental protection, nuclear safety, food and feed safety, animal health and welfare, public health, consumer protection, privacy, data protection and security of network and information systems.

It also applies to breaches of EU competition rules, violations and abuse of corporate tax rules and damage to the EU's financial interests. 

All companies with more than 50 employees or with an annual turnover of over EUR10m will have to set up an internal procedure to handle whistleblowers' reports.

We shall keep clients informed of developments.

For further advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or for employment law advice more generally, please contact JPP Law on 020 3468 3064 or email info@jpplaw.co.uk

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