Learn everything about the Whistleblowing Law in Italy
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
• 8 Minutes reading time
In recent years, whistleblowing has gained significant importance in ensuring transparency, accountability, and integrity within organizations. With the implementation of EU Directive 2019/1937 through Italy's new Legislative Decree No. 24/2023, businesses operating in the country must stay informed and adapt their practices to comply with these updated regulations. This blog post will provide a comprehensive guide to understanding the key provisions and implications of this groundbreaking law for both public and private entities in Italy.
- The new Italian Whistleblowing Law, Legislative Decree No. 24/2023, implements the EU Directive 2019/1937 on whistleblowing to enhance transparency and accountability in both public and private sectors.
- Companies operating in Italy must establish a whistleblowing management system that meets compliance requirements such as establishing internal reporting channels, providing training to employees, ensuring confidentiality and security of personal data collected during the reporting process and implementing supporting measures for whistleblowers.
- Whistleblower protection measures under the new law include protection against discriminatory actions, confidentiality and anonymity safeguards, facilitators to assist whistleblowers in filing reports, remedies against retaliation or discriminatory actions through labor courts or the National Labor Inspectorate among others.
- To comply with the new legislation while protecting themselves from breaches of Union or domestic laws that could harm public interests or their own integrity companies should adopt clear procedures like establishing internal and external reporting channels, provide training programs to employees regularly monitor compliance with these requirements etc.
Overview Of EU Directive 2019/1937
The EU Directive 2019/1937 aims to establish common rules and standards on the protection of whistleblowers across the European Union, ensuring that reporting persons are effectively protected from retaliation or any form of discrimination.
Objectives And Key Provisions
The primary objective of the EU Whistleblowing Directive (EU) 2019/1937 is to create a comprehensive legal framework that safeguards whistleblowers who report breaches of Union law, contributing to transparency and accountability across European nations.
For instance, the Directive requires both public and private entities with more than 50 employees or those having adopted an organizational model to establish internal and external reporting channels.
These measures allow whistleblowers a safe avenue for disclosing information on any irregularities they may have witnessed within their workplace. Moreover, protections are extended not only to current employees but also individuals during recruitment processes, pre-contractual negotiations, and even former workers.
To ensure compliance with these provisions while addressing whistleblower concerns in Italy, Legislative Decree No.
Italy's Implementation Of The Whistleblowing Directive
Italy has implemented the Whistleblowing Directive through Legislative Decree 24/2023, which includes key changes and additions to domestic law.
Legislative Decree 24/2023
Legislative Decree No. 24/2023, enacted on March 10, marks a significant milestone in Italy's implementation of the EU Directive 2019/1937 on whistleblowing.
This new legislation applies to all Italian companies with more than 50 employees or those that have adopted an organizational model under Legislative Decree No. 231/2001 (Model 231).
Under this decree, companies must establish a whistleblowing management system by July 15, 2023, to ensure compliance and avoid heavy fines for non-compliance. A key feature of this legislation is the expanded scope of whistleblower protections, covering not only current employees but also those whose work-based relationship has yet to begin during recruitment or pre-contractual negotiations as well as former employees.
The Italian Anticorruption Authority (ANAC) plays a vital role under this framework as the competent authority responsible for receiving external reports from both public and private sectors.
Key Changes And Additions
The new Italian Whistleblowing Law, Legislative Decree No. 24/2023, introduces several significant changes and additions to the existing legal framework. These include:
- Expansion of the scope of application to cover both public and private sectors.
- Inclusion of private entities with over 50 employees or those that have adopted an organizational model.
- Extension of the types of breaches that can be reported, including violations of Union and domestic law that may harm public interest or the entity's integrity.
- Establishment of both internal and external reporting channels for whistleblowers.
- Provision for public disclosure as a protected reporting channel under certain conditions.
- Introduction of specific penalties for violating the provisions in the Decree, ranging from €10,000 to €50,000 imposed by the ANAC.
- Emphasis on whistleblower protection measures, including confidentiality and anonymity safeguards, as well as remedies against retaliation and discriminatory actions.
- Assignment of competent authority to receive external reports for both public and private sectors to the Italian Anticorruption Authority (ANAC).
- Requirement for companies to establish a whistleblowing management system and procedure for handling reports by July 15, 2023.
- Inclusion of facilitators in the scope of individuals protected under the Decree, further expanding whistleblower protections.
Implications For Italian Companies
Italian companies will need to ensure compliance with the new whistleblowing law and implement measures for whistleblower protection, including establishing clear reporting channels and procedures.
Companies operating in Italy are required to comply with the new whistleblowing law by implementing a whistleblowing management system that meets the following compliance requirements:
- Establishing and maintaining internal reporting channels that ensure the confidentiality of the whistleblower's identity and content of the report, as well as ensuring that all reports made through these channels are properly recorded and investigated.
- Providing training to employees on how to recognize and report breaches of Union law or domestic law that harm public interest or the entity's integrity, including breaches of Model 231.
- Ensuring that external reporting channels are available to employees who wish to make a report but believe their internal reporting channel has failed or prefer not to use it.
- Adopting appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the confidentiality and security of personal data collected during the reporting process, in accordance with GDPR principles.
- Implementing supporting measures for whistleblowers, such as protection against retaliation, remedies against discriminatory actions, and pecuniary sanctions for those who breach whistleblower protections.
- Regularly monitoring and evaluating compliance with these requirements, including conducting assessments of any risks related to whistleblowing activities, making necessary changes based on evolving regulations.
- Cooperating with National Anti - Corruption Authority (ANAC) investigations into reports made under the new law and providing ANAC with access to relevant documents when requested.
Failure to comply with these requirements could result in hefty fines from regulatory bodies such as ANAC or other enforcement agencies. Companies should work closely with their HR teams and legal counsel to ensure full compliance with Italian Whistleblowing legislation.
Whistleblower Protection Measures
The new Italian whistleblowing law provides robust protection measures for reporting persons, ensuring their rights are safeguarded throughout the process. Some of these measures include:
- Protection against discriminatory actions: The Decree prohibits any form of retaliation or discriminatory treatment against whistleblowers and those connected to them.
- Confidentiality and anonymity: Companies must ensure that whistleblowers' identities are kept confidential, and they have the option of remaining anonymous if they choose to report via external channels.
- Facilitators: Companies must appoint independent persons as facilitators to assist whistleblowers in filing reports.
- Remedies against retaliation: Whistleblowers who suffer retaliation may seek redress through specialized labor courts or the National Labor Inspectorate.
- Pecuniary sanctions: The Decree imposes heavy fines on companies that breach whistleblower protection measures.
- Burden of proof: Companies bear the burden of proving that any adverse action taken was not in retaliation for a whistleblowing report.
- Direct reporting to ANAC: Whistleblowers can make direct reports to the National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANAC) if companies fail to establish effective internal reporting channels or pose a threat to their safety.
- Training programs: Employers are required to train employees on the new whistleblowing rules, procedures, and protections available under the Decree.
Overall, these protection measures aim to encourage more individuals to come forward with information about potential breaches of Union law or domestic law while providing adequate safeguards against any negative consequences they might face for doing so.
Reporting Channels And Procedures
Italian companies are required to establish both internal and external reporting channels under the new whistleblowing law. These channels should ensure that both the public and private sectors can report any potential breach of Union or domestic law. Here are some key points regarding reporting channels and procedures:
- Companies must establish a system for receiving reports from whistleblowers within their organization.
- The reporting channel should contain clear instructions on how to submit a report, including contact information for an individual or department responsible for handling the reports.
- There must be protections in place to ensure confidentiality and data privacy, as well as technical measures to prevent unauthorized access to the evidence collected during investigations.
- Companies must also establish an external reporting channel through which whistleblowers can report potential breaches directly to the competent authority, ANAC.
- Reporting individuals should receive confirmation of receipt of their report within seven days, and updates about the progress of the investigation at regular intervals.
- Those who facilitate or support whistleblowing should also be protected under the law, and companies should encourage employees to report in good faith by establishing policies protecting them from retaliatory actions.
- If retaliation does occur, whistleblowers have remedies available against their employer, including pecuniary sanctions.
The establishment of clear reporting channels and procedures is essential for Italian companies looking to comply with the new legislation while protecting themselves from breaches of Union or domestic laws that could harm public interests or their own integrity.
Best Practices For Adopting The New Italian Whistleblowing Law
To ensure effective implementation and compliance with the new Italian whistleblowing law, companies should establish clear policies and procedures, provide training and awareness programs, ensure confidentiality and anonymity for reporters, and regularly monitor and evaluate their reporting channels - read on to learn more about how to adopt these best practices.
Establishing Clear Policies And Procedures
One critical aspect of adopting the new Italian Whistleblowing Law is for organizations to establish clear policies and procedures. This ensures that all employees are aware of their rights and obligations under the law and can report any potential violations safely.
To establish clear policies and procedures, companies should consider the following:
- Develop a comprehensive whistleblower policy that outlines what constitutes whistleblowing, how to report concerns, who to report concerns to, and how investigations will be conducted.
- Establish an internal reporting channel that allows employees to report concerns confidentially without fear of retaliation. Companies must also provide external reporting channels that employees can use when internal channels are not sufficient or if there is a conflict of interest.
- Training programs should be provided for all employees, including managers and executives, on what whistleblowing is and the importance of speaking up against misconduct.
- Ensure confidentiality and anonymity throughout the reporting process while safeguarding personal data in line with data protection regulations such as GDPR.
- Regular monitoring and evaluation are essential in ensuring effective implementation of whistleblowing policies. Additionally, periodic reviews should be conducted to identify weaknesses or gaps in existing procedures for improvements.
By taking these steps, organizations can promote transparency in business practices while protecting employees who speak up against wrongdoing within their organization.
Training And Awareness Programs
To ensure effective adoption of the new Italian whistleblowing law, companies are advised to provide training and awareness programs for their employees. This helps to familiarize them with the new regulations and ensure compliance. Below are some suggested actions:
- HR teams should organize regular training sessions on the provisions of the legislation, including how to make internal or external reports.
- Companies should create awareness campaigns, either through posters, newsletters, or in - house training videos, to promote a culture of transparency and accountability.
- Employees need to be informed about what constitutes a reportable offense and the possible outcomes of making a report.
- Training should also cover how to protect personal data while reporting, maintaining confidentiality and anonymity, as well as any potential risks that may arise from retaliation by offenders.
- Companies need to establish a whistleblowing management system or a hotline for support and guidance on the new regulations.
- Employees must understand their rights under this law and how they can report violations without fear of retaliation.
By providing proper training and awareness programs, companies can foster a transparent work environment where employees feel safe reporting breaches of conduct or violations of public interest without fearing discrimination or harassment.
Ensuring Confidentiality And Anonymity
Protecting whistleblowers' identities is a crucial aspect of the new Italian Whistleblowing Law. The law requires companies to establish secure and confidential reporting channels that allow anonymous reporting, protecting individuals from potential retaliation.
Companies must also ensure that all data regarding reports and whistleblowers are kept strictly confidential and comply with existing privacy regulations, such as the GDPR (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) and Privacy Code (Legislative Decree No.196 of June 30, 2003). It's essential for employers to implement technical measures to protect data integrity during internal investigations or in case there is a public disclosure of information.
Regular Monitoring And Evaluation
To ensure that companies comply with the new Italian Whistleblowing Law, regular monitoring and evaluation are crucial. This process involves periodically reviewing the effectiveness of existing policies and procedures in place to identify areas for improvement.
It also includes assessing the quality and number of reports received during a given period to determine if they are compliant with the Decree's requirements.
An example of regular monitoring could involve analyzing data from internal reporting channels to assess whether employees feel comfortable coming forward with complaints or concerns about potential violations within the company.
If there is little usage, it may indicate that employees are unsure or distrustful of these channels, leading management teams to review existing policies thoroughly.
Potential Challenges And Solutions
Balancing transparency and privacy concerns may prove challenging, but companies can ensure confidentiality and anonymity through secure reporting channels. Handling false reports and retaliation can also be problematic, but adopting a whistleblowing management system with proper support mechanisms and remedies can mitigate these risks.
Balancing Transparency And Privacy Concerns
One of the challenges in implementing the new Italian Whistleblowing Law is balancing transparency and privacy concerns. The law requires companies to establish internal and external reporting channels, which could potentially expose sensitive information about corporate practices or individuals.
To address this issue, private sector companies should develop robust policies that clearly define what types of information can be reported internally versus externally.
Moreover, companies need to handle false reports appropriately without undermining the credibility of genuine ones. Organizations may face pressure from stakeholders to disclose more than they would like under the guise of transparency; however, it's essential to strike a balance that accounts for individual privacy rights and commercial/professional secrets protection as well as public interests.
Companies should encourage dialogue between employees through open communication channels and regular training programs on best practices for whistleblowing management systems.
Handling False Reports And Retaliation
In any whistleblowing system, there is always the possibility of false reports and retaliation against whistleblowers. To minimize these risks, companies should establish clear procedures for investigating claims and ensure that all allegations are taken seriously.
It's important to strike a balance between transparency and privacy concerns when handling sensitive information.
To address false reports and protect whistleblowers, the Italian Whistleblowing Law includes remedies against retaliatory actions, such as reinstatement and damage compensation.
The burden of proof lies with the employer to demonstrate that adverse action taken against a whistleblower was not in retaliation for their reporting. In addition, companies should provide training on how to detect false reports and implement measures to prevent them.
This can include security protocols for data protection and confidentiality agreements with employees who may have access to sensitive information related to internal investigations.
Adapting To Evolving Regulations
As with any new legislation, companies must prepare to adapt to evolving regulations surrounding the Italian Whistleblowing Law. This means staying up to date on any changes or updates that may come about and ensuring that compliance measures are in place.
Furthermore, it's important for companies to be aware of potential challenges they may face when implementing these new regulations. For example, finding a balance between transparency and privacy concerns can be difficult, as well as handling false reports or retaliation from others within the company.
However, by taking proactive steps such as providing training programs for employees on whistleblowing policies and best practices can help mitigate these risks while also promoting accountability within the organization.
The implementation of EU Directive 2019/1937 through the Legislative Decree No. 24/2023 marks a significant step towards promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in Italy.
The new whistleblowing law aims to provide effective protection for individuals reporting breaches of Union and domestic laws that might harm public interests or company integrity.
As compliance obligations become more complex, it is essential for companies to stay updated on evolving regulations and implement best practices like training programs, confidentiality measures, and anti-retaliation policies.
Overall the Italian Whistleblower legislation represents a positive change for public-facing entities in terms of increasing transparency across key industries such as finance, healthcare, energy production etc., while simultaneously ensuring high levels of corporate integrity are maintained at all times throughout their operations.