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The Duty Speech Loophole: how the EU Whistleblower Directive could backfire against its own objectives

Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project (a co-founder of Whistleblowing International Network) explains that unless a serious “technical contradiction is resolved [the EU draft directive] could backfire against its own objectives, against employers and especially against whistleblowers”

This article first appeared on the Whistleblowing International Network  website

January 21, 2019Blog

Devine urges the European Council to avoid violating fundamental global best practices in whistleblowing laws by adopting the precedents of EU member states of Ireland and the Romanian Presidency Romania where no such mandatory internal reporting through designated channels exists.

Reporting internally should be protected easily.

Reporting internally should be protected easily – organisations should want to learn about any and all potential problems early and promptly with few barriers for staff to speak up safely. However, according to the draft directive, staff will only be protected from retaliation if they use the official channels employers will be required to set up. This misunderstands the essence of all whistleblowing laws to create safe channels for the free flow of information in order to responsibly exercise authority.

Good employer whistleblower arrangements are those that support rather than replace regular communications

Good employer whistleblower arrangements are those that support rather than replace regular communications that occur as part of everyone’s job responsibilities within any business or organisation. Instead, the EU draft directive seeks to limit protected reports within the employment relationship to a single designated channel. This risks undermining employers’ management structures and risk management systems, leaves whistleblowers defenceless if they are retaliated against for doing their jobs, and diverts information away from those who need it the most.

The EU draft directive seeks to limit protected reports within the employment relationship to a single designated channel.

After 40 years of advising whistleblowers and being at the forefront of laws to protect whistleblowers in the United States and around the world, Tom Devine’s expertise is grounded in the reality of whistleblowing and what makes good organisations even better. The European Council should be listening.

 

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About the author

About the author

Tom Devine is Government Accountability Project's Legal Director, and has worked at the organization since 1979. Since that time, Tom has assisted over 5,000 whistleblowers in defending themselves against retaliation and in making real differences on behalf of the public.

Tom has authored or co-authored numerous books, including 2011's The Corporate Whistleblowers Survival Guide: A Handbook for Committing the Truth, Courage Without Martyrdom: The Whistleblower's Survival Guide.

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