For companies with more than 50 employees, two major changes are on the horizon this month. For one, since December 1, 2023, it is mandatory to appoint a confidential advisor within your company. Furthermore, as an employer, you will also have to take measures under the new "whistleblower regulations" by Dec. 17, 2023.
In this article, we provide key to-do's and points of interest for each of these obligations.
The confidant - since December 1, 2023
As part of the Federal Action Plan on Mental Wellbeing at Work, the government wants to increase the presence of confidants in companies. To realize this ambition, the since Dec. 1, 2023, mandatory for companies with more than 50 employees to appoint at least 1 confidential advisor. If you fail to do so, you risk a criminal or administrative fine.
Furthermore, this confidant must have a internal staff member be and he/she will have a mandatory - employer-funded - basic training of 5 days must follow.
As an employer, do you have less than 50 employees employed, then you are not required To appoint a trustee.
For more information regarding the (appointment of the) confidential advisor, please refer to the FPS WASO website.
The whistleblower policy - deadline Dec. 17, 2023
If your company has between 50 and 250 employees, you still have until December 17, 2023 time to create a internal reporting channel with accompanying procedure implement in your business.
To determine whether there are at least 50 employees within your company, it is based on the average number of employees employed (as in social elections). However, this count must be done at the legal entity level, and thus not at the level of the so-called "technical business unit" (being any affiliated companies).
What does this whistleblower policy entail?
The purpose of establishing a whistleblower policy is to provide employees (and other stakeholders) with the opportunity to confidentially report violations of certain regulations in a work-related context.
More specifically, the whistleblower policy covers the reporting of violations related to:
|Financial services, products and markets
|Radiation protection and nuclear safety
|Animal health and welfare
|Protection of personal data and privacy
|Network and information systems security
|Combating tax fraud
|Combating social fraud
|EU financial interests
As whistleblower The employee in question will have a certain protection enjoy and thus he/she need not fear any form of retaliation. For example, the whistleblower will be protected from dismissal, suspension, some financial loss or a demotion, as well as medical referral, harassment or a negative reference.
Not only the whistleblower will enjoy protection: this applies also for all persons associated with him/her are. These include co-workers, family members or persons assisting the whistleblower.
What should you do by Dec. 17, 2023?
Specifically, you must (1) create a internal reporting channel establish within your company, as well as (2) the necessary procedures provided for internal reporting and follow-up.
If a reporting channel already exists within your company, it can be perfectly maintained as long as it meets the conditions foreseen in the new regulations.
ESTABLISH INTERNAL NOTIFICATION CHANNEL
The internal reporting channel must meet several conditions, including:
- It is possible to make oral and/or written reports.
- The confidentiality of the identity of the reporter (and any third parties named in the report) is protected at all times.
- The channel is accessible to employees 24/7.
The nature of this internal reporting channel is not much defined by law. So in practice, it can range from a dedicated phone line or mailbox to an external (third-party) managed system where employees can make their reports internally.
Furthermore, there will also be a receiver and a administrator of reports must be designated within your company. These people are then responsible for handling the requests. It is also possible to designate one person to take on both the role of recipient and that of administrator. In any case, this person must be impartial and independent person.
Therefore, this position can be perfectly taken up by your internal HR manager or other employee of the hr department.
FORMATTING POLICY WITH INFORMATION ON REPORTING CHANNELS
In addition to establishing the internal reporting channel, it will also be necessary to establish the report follow-up procedures elaborate.
This can be done through a policy or in the labor regulations of your company. However, it seems appropriate to us not to add this to your employment regulations, as it can be changed less flexibly if things need to be added later.
This document will need to include what breaches are involved, how a report can be made, information on the procedure and follow-up of the report, and its confidentiality and processing.
Failure to fulfill the above whistleblower obligations by Dec. 17, 2023 will result in administrative and criminal penalties.