EU whistleblowing protections approved

The European Parliament has formally approved the text of a new whistleblowing directive.

First proposed by the Commission in 2018, the new directive provides for new EU-wide standards to protect whistleblowers revealing breaches of EU law in a wide range of areas including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, and consumer and data protection. It now needs approval by EU ministers and will come into force two years after that date (probably in May 2021).

The directive will broaden whistleblowing protections in the UK to cover more people with public interest concerns, such as job applicants, non-executive directors, volunteers and self-employed workers. It would also require all organisations with 50 or more employees to introduce internal channels and procedures for whistleblowing, including protecting their confidentiality and providing feedback. There is currently no obligation on organisations (outside of regulated sectors such as financial services or the NHS) to have any whistleblowing arrangements.

While the UK already has certain protections for whistleblowers under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, these would be improved upon under the new rules. Protect, the legal charity for whistleblowers, is urging the government to adopt this new directive ‘or risk UK whistleblowers being left behind with out-of-date legislation’.