EU directive

EU whistleblower directive

The EU Directive enters into force on 17 December 2021. It is a requirement that the member states must establish channels and routines for internal notification and follow-up. The directive covers notification of breaches of EU law and applies to areas such as public procurement, animal health, public health, money laundering and corruption, competition law rules, food safety and product safety. The directive is a minimum requirement, which means that member states can have rules that protect whistleblowers better. Member States may also have rules for whistleblower protection in addition to what is included in the directive. For organizations in Norway that have branches in the EU, the EU directive will be in addition to the Working Environment Act §2 A about whistleblowing.

Who does the EU directive apply to?
The directive applies to all private enterprises with at least 50 employees, as well as all public enterprises. Municipalities with less than 50 employees or less than 10,000 inhabitants can be exempted from the rule.

Whistleblowing channels in the business
Notification channels must be secure and protect the identity of the whistleblower. The channel shall facilitate both oral and written notification. In the notification routines, it  must also be possible to notify by telephone and  physical meetings.

External notification to public authorities – requirements for external notification channels and notification routines
Member States shall establish external whistleblowing channels to which whistleblowers may use. 

Who can notify about matters worthy of criticism?
Employees in the private and public sector, persons who are in the process of hiring, shareholders, volunteers, trainees, suppliers and subcontractors, the self-employed and former employees should be able to notify.

Requirements for notification:

  1. The notifier is entitled to a confirmation of received notification within 7 days.
  2. The notification case shall be processed by a case officer who is impartial.
  3. All case processing must be recorded.
  4. When the case has been completed, the whistleblower must receive feedback within three months.

To notify according to the principles of justifiable whistleblowing:

  1. The whistleblower must have reasonably reason to believe that the conditions worthy of criticism are or have taken place
  2. The whistleblower must first notify internally, then to public authorities before he/she whistleblow to the media

Protection of the whistleblower 
In order for the whistleblower to be protected, it is important that the notification is in accordance with the principles of justifiable notification (see above).

Member States shall prohibit any retaliation against the whistleblower. Examples of retaliation can be threats, harassment, discrimination and termination. The whistleblower shall have access to information about the processes and offers of free legal advice.