November 17, 2021 - European Union

The European Commission’s Requirement for Local Hotlines May Undermine Whistleblower Protection

The European Commission (EC) has stated that the Directive on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (the “Directive”) requires multinational organizations to offer local entity level reporting channels alongside their central whistleblowing hotlines. The statement has been causing quite a stir given that most multinational organizations currently operate centrally run hotlines. The EC’s position appears to be based on the belief that local hotlines will be more accessible and impartial. However, that is not necessarily the case because:

a) Not only can centrally run hotlines be just as accessible as locally run hotlines but in most cases they already function as local hotlines; and

b) The EC’s interpretation imposes new requirements that go beyond the Directive, which can actually increase the chances of concerns not being investigated properly and whistleblowers fearing and experiencing retaliation.

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