As of February 21, 2023, Spain has implemented Law 2/2023 Whistleblowing. This legislation marks a milestone in protecting whistleblowers and promoting an ethical and transparent corporate culture. One of the critical elements of this law is the obligation for all public and private entities with 50 or more employees to have a complaints box. But why is this so important? Let’s take it one step at a time.
What is a Whistleblower mailbox?
A Whistleblower mailbox is, first and foremost, a communication tool. Yes, a tool that allows employees, suppliers and customers to report irregular conduct. Now, employee complaints must be channelled confidentially and simply. Thus providing a secure channel for ethical concerns to be effectively communicated and addressed.
The importance of a whistleblower mailbox
A whistleblower mailbox is a fundamental tool for detecting severe situations in a company. Be it corruption, fraud, labour harassment, discrimination and other behaviours that negatively affect a company and its employees. The whistleblower mailbox serves as a secure and confidential means for expressing ethical concerns. This enables organisations to take preventive and corrective measures to ensure an ethical and transparent work environment.
Requirements for the implementation of a whistleblower mailbox
The implementation of an effective whistleblower mailbox requires a design that guarantees two elements: confidentiality and security. It should allow complaints to be made anonymously and protect the personal data of complainants. In addition, companies must guarantee at least two conditions. One is that there will be no retaliation for whistleblowers, and another is that steps will be taken to resolve reported cases. It may also be possible for complainants to receive compensation for damages suffered.
So, what are the requirements to be met by a whistleblower mailbox?
- Facilitation of information transmission: The channel should allow for the easy and rapid transmission of information related to infractions.
- Guarantee of confidentiality: The channel must safeguard the confidentiality of all those involved in the complaint.
- Flexibility in communication: The channel should offer the possibility of presenting information in written or verbal form.
- Channel integration. All information channels that can be created for this purpose must be integrated into the company.
- Effective communication handling: The channel must ensure adequate treatment of information within the entity.
- Independence: The information system must be independent and distinct from other internal information systems.
- Designation of a person responsible: The company must have a person responsible for the whistleblower system.
- Establishment of principles: Policies related to the principles of the whistleblower system and whistleblower protection should be defined.
- Establishment of procedures: Creating procedures for managing incoming information is required.
- Protection guarantees: The company should establish safeguards to protect whistleblowers within the organisation.
We have already understood what it is, its importance, and the requirements for implementing a whistleblower mailbox. Let us now talk a little about the Whistleblowing Act.
Pillars of the Whistleblowing Act
The Whistleblowing Act establishes a regulatory framework to govern the protection and handling of complaints. Especially in the business environment. Its key elements include:
- Obligation to have a whistleblower mailbox: All public and private entities with 50 or more employees.
- Whistleblower protection: The law seeks to protect whistleblowers from possible retaliation. Any act of retaliation, such as discrimination or dismissal, is considered illegal.
- Independent authority: An independent authority is established to oversee and ensure compliance with the law. This ensures fairness and efficiency in the complaint process.
Who does the Whistleblower Act protect?
The Whistleblower Protection Act protects those persons with whistleblower status:
- Public employees or employees working for others
- Shareholders and persons belonging to the Board of Directors
- Management and supervision of a company, including non-executive members
- Any person working under the supervision of contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.
In this way, it is considered valid to apply any case of labor infraction report either:
- Within a terminated employment relationship
- Within an employment relationship that has not yet begun (violations in the hiring process).
- People in the category of volunteers, interns, trainees, trainee workers
- Legal representatives of employees in a counseling and support role
- Individuals assisting the informant in the reporting process
- Individuals, such as family members or co-workers, who may suffer retaliation for the informant’s actions.
- Individuals who have the capacity to influence the legal entity in which the investee has an interest
The Whistleblower mailbox regulation is considered an infringement at the European level:
- Those listed in the Annexe to Directive 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
- Those affecting the financial interests of the EU. In particular, those specified in Article 235 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Article 235 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
- Infringements of powers and aid granted by the States.
- Those that are criminal or administrative infractions of a severe nature. That is to say, that imply economic losses for the Treasury and Social Security.
Who must comply with the regulations?
It is important to clarify that failure to comply with the Whistleblowing Act carries legal and financial penalties. Penalties that may even be of a criminal nature depending on the seriousness of the infraction. Fines, on the other hand, can reach up to one million euros for companies. But in addition to the penalties, there is an even worse consequence: the loss of employee trust and credibility.
When employees feel that they cannot report a problem without negative consequences for their careers, they lose confidence in the company altogether. This, in turn, can result in decreased productivity, engagement and job satisfaction. A whistleblower mailbox is not only to avoid a fine but also to generate a climate of trust.
As a little reminder, with Vip District, the implementation of a whistleblower mailbox is easy. This is because one of our products, Vip Connect, has it built in. In other words, with Vip Connect, you will not only have a proven corporate social network. No. You will also be guaranteed compliance with the Whistleblowing Act. And you’ll have the most important of all, engaged employees in a work environment. This translates into more efficient and loyal employees.
At Vip District, we believe in Smart Engagement. How about you? Request your Vip Connect demo and see for yourself.