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After a long period of silence about the Whistleblower Protection Act (HinSchG), there is now certainty: This morning, the Bundestag passed the HinSchG in a slightly modified form in its second and third readings.
The law is expected to come into force after the Bundesrat’s involvement in the first quarter of 2023. At such date, companies with generally 250 employees or more must have implemented an internal reporting channel. Employers with generally 50 up to 249 employees will belong to the group of obligated parties from December 17, 2023. The most important changes at a glance:
Group-wide solution possible
It will still be possible to establish an internal reporting channel within a group centrally at the group parent company as a “third party”. However, the original responsibility for following up and remedying the identified violation remains with the respective company.
Anonymous reports possible
The draft law had initially stipulated that reporting channels would not have to deal with anonymous reports and that non-anonymous reports would be given priority. In the final stretch, the legislator added the requirement for companies to enable the filing of anonymous reports and ensure that these will be processed.
Internal reporting channel has priority
Employers are required to provide clear and easily accessible information on how to use the available reporting channels. Now, employers must also provide incentives for whistleblowers to primarily file their reports through the internal reporting channel before filing them through any external reporting channel.
Compensation obligation also for non-pecuniary damage
No reprisals may be used against whistleblowers, including, for example, dismissal, a warning, but also the denial of a promotion or bullying. In the future, whistleblowers will also be able to demand appropriate compensation in money if the reprisal has caused non-pecuniary damage.