On 07 October 2019, the Council of the European Union adopted the Whistleblower Directive. The EU Member States were to implement this by 17 December 2021. Given the current state of affairs, it can be assumed that the final version of the Austrian implementation law will only be available in the next few weeks..

Although the exact rules are not yet available, it is clear that legal entities with at least 250 employees must implement an internal whistleblowing system. Companies with fewer than 250 employees will probably not have to introduce a whistleblower system for about another two years.

It is not yet clear which legal areas the whistleblower system will have to cover under the Austrian Implementation Act (in addition to the matters required by the Whistleblower Directive). However, companies can of course choose to cover a broader scope than that required by law.

Companies that foresee having to implement a whistleblower system when the Implementation Act becomes effective should already be taking the necessary steps to do so. They can then fine-tune the system quickly as needed once the final implementation law is available.

Why is it beneficial to have a functioning internal whistleblower system?

An employee who worries that reporting irregular behavior in the workplace will have negative personal consequences is not likely to do so. They may instead file a report directly with the administrative authorities or even turn to the media. Having a functioning internal whistleblowing system can help a company avoid the enormous disadvantages that can result from such employee actions.

Information received from a whistleblower system can raise a variety of legal issues. Experience has shown that the following areas are often affected: antitrust law, data protection law, public procurement law, product safety, public law, capital market law, criminal law, and regulatory law.

Not all companies have the capacity to cover all areas of law comprehensively, following up on tips in a thorough and timely manner. We therefore offer our clients monitoring and content support for whistleblower systems as an external service provider. We are also happy to assist in the selection of a suitable IT provider.

Our expertise at a glance:

  • Planning and setting up an internal whistleblowing system
  • Staff training
  • External support for the whistleblowing system
  • Legal advice on all issues raised by whistleblower tips
  • Conducting internal investigations following receipt of a notification
  • Representation in administrative proceedings concerning internal or external reporting

We regularly hold whistleblowing events and report on current whistleblowing developments. If you would like to attend an event or stay informed about the topic, please email us at whistleblowing@eh.at.