Doc of the Day: Launching a Whistleblower Hotline Across Europe

From law firm White & Case:

“A key practice that anchors many corporate social responsibility programs and compliance initiatives is launching and publicizing an internal whistleblower procedure, report channel, or ‘hotline’ that entices insiders to denounce colleagues’ misdeeds so management can root out corporate crimes, corruption and cover-ups.Domestically within the US, workplace whistleblower hotlines are a largely uncontroversial ‘best practice’ to which few ever object. But tensions rise when a multinational extends report channels abroad. In Europe in particular, whistleblower hotlines can spark blowback from staff, employee representatives and government enforcers, and can trigger confounding legal issues without US counterpart. To a socially-responsible American, the hurdles impeding European whistleblower hotlines have gotten higher than they should have any right to get.Over a dozen European jurisdictions interpret their local domestic data protection laws (either by regulation or at least by data agency pronouncement) specifically to rein in employer hotlines. And an EU advisory body called the Article 29 Working Party issued a persuasive but non-binding report that recommends all 27 EU states embrace a particularly-restrictive interpretation of EU data law to restrict hotlines. Broadly speaking, Europeans see hotlines as threatening privacy rights of denounced targets and witnesses when hotlines are not ‘proportionate’ to other report channels in European workplaces…”

Read the full update here»