Developments in Whistleblower legislation
Fraud, violation of legal provisions, compliance breaches and poor governance are serious risks for all organisations. Dishonest behaviour can undermine operating efficiency and reliability, while serious cases can severely damage an organisation's reputation. In our experience, effectively designed and operated whistleblower frameworks enable organisations to receive, assess, and as applicable, act upon reports to the benefit of the organisation. Whistleblowing regulation was fragmented in the European Union and is still not specified by law in Switzerland.
The role of a Whistleblower is frequently debated, with different conclusions reached by various individuals and organisations on the scope of protections, the circumstances whereby blowing the whistle is the right and correct course of action, and the existence and the extent of any positive social and economic benefit derived from Whistleblowing. The European Union (“EU”) and the Swiss Federal Council have sought to introduce clarity.
The EU has approved a Whistleblower directive (Directive of the European Parliament and The Council on the protection of persons reporting on breaches of Union law, hereinafter “Whistleblower Directive”) while the Swiss Federal Council proposed, in 2018, revised Whistleblower legislation for the consideration of the National Council (“Schutz bei Meldung von Unregelmässigkeiten am Arbeitsplatz”). In June 2019, the National Council rejected the Federal Council’s proposal, asking the Council to deliberate again. In Switzerland, the current legislation on whistleblowing is still uncertain, a draft bill exists but has not yet been formally adopted.
In light of these developments we have summarised the key requirements and set out the relationships between a Whistleblower, Undertaking and a Competent Authority as set out within the EU Whistleblower directive and the rejected Federal Council Whistleblower proposal, in order to help readers familarise themselves with the forthcoming EU requirements and understand the potential direction of travel within Switzerland .
 (Nb. Existing content of the Code of Obligation, some of which may be relevant to Whistleblowing, has not been considered nor referenced within this feature)
Partner and Forensic Services and Financial Crime Leader, PwC Switzerland
Tel: +41 58 792 17 60
Data Protection Officer, PwC Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Tel: +41 58 792 17 12