What is pending?
- The EU Whistleblower Directive has to be implemented by the Austrian parliament until December 17th, 2021.
- Since the parliamentary procedure takes time and there is no draft law yet it is questionable if this deadline can be met. Until the actual implementation, the directive is not directly applicable to private individuals. Nevertheless, it is highly suggested to already take action, since the upcoming national regulation may come into force quickly, with only little preparation time for companies.
Who is affected?
- For companies with between 50 and 249 employees, the EU allows an extended implementation period until December 17th, 2023. However, this is merely a minimum standard. Austrian law could also require an immediate implementation.
- Companies with more than 250 employees must have already created new internal structures by December 17th 2021, or by the time the national law has passed.
- The areas where reportings are protected are public procurement, financial services, product safety, transport safety, environmental protection, radiation protection, food safety, animal welfare, public health, consumer protection and data protection.
What is to do?
- Companies must set up a confidential internal channel through which illegal behavior can be reported. For example, a hotline, an e-mail box, or an internet platform that are set up specifically for reports. The confidentiality of the persons involved must be guaranteed in the chosen method.
- Employees must be informed that they can also use an external official channel (such as the reporting system of the WKStA). It is also possible to entrust a suitable service provider with the implementation.
- The response to reports is mandated: Within seven days of receiving the report, the whistleblower must receive a confirmation. After three months a further response must then be sent.
- Employees must not suffer any negative consequences as a result of a reporting, such as suspension, termination, denial of promotion, transfer or other financial sanctions.