France publishes SOX Whistleblower report
On 6 March, a report into the potential establishment of whistleblowing schemes in French companies was published. The report was commissioned by the Minister of State for Employment and reaffirms the CNIL's (the French data protection authority) position that whistleblowing is and should remain an additional means of disclosing important company information, provided that there is no obligation on employees to blow the whistle.
The report argues that a company's whistleblowing scheme must protect the company's interests, but should not be used to "settle old scores" or involve employees in the exercise of disciplinary powers. The report further recognises the importance of protecting the identity and interests of the whistle blowers, stating "it seems legitimate to allocate the same protection to the whistleblower as long as this person has acted in good faith." As such, the report provides for the "possibility of anonymity in certain conditions."
The report proposes that the scope of whistleblowing be limited to a number of situations, such as the commission of acts contrary to legislation or regulations which may seriously harm the running of the company. Proposals are contained in the report to amend the French Labour Code and specifically the areas providing for the information and consultation procedure of the Company's Works Council, if any, and the optional negotiation with the employees' representatives.
To address all of these concerns, the report lists certain details that should be included in the company scheme for implementing whistleblowing. These include the actions that can be reported by whistleblowing, the individuals likely to use the provision, the individuals whose actions may be reported, and the means of collecting and processing the reported actions.
Although the report proposes reforms to the current legislation, it also recognises the need for flexibility, and to ensure that the information and consultation rights of the workforce continue to be observed.
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