Dutch House for Whistleblowers Act

Research among works councils: employees do not dare to report wrongdoings

One in three employees does not feel comfortable to report misconduct. One in seven says there is a culture of fear within their organization. This is revealed by the Outlook Reporting procedures and Integrity provisions 2017 (Verkenning Meldprocedures en Integriteitsvoorzieningen 2017), an investigation among more than 430 works councils, conducted by the in 2016 founded Dutch House for Whistleblowers. Since 1 July 2016 whistleblowers are granted protection by the Dutch House for Whistleblowers Act. This law stipulates, among other things, that organizations with more than 50 employees must have a reporting procedure for suspicions of misconduct, which also protect whistleblowers against detriment.

Internal reporting procedure

Organizations still have to take substantial steps to comply with the law: only 48% have drawn up an internal reporting procedure for misconduct that meets the new regulations. And there is every reason to speed up. In many organizations, employees do not want to report. This is evident from the research of the House for Whistleblowers.

Incidentally, only having a reporting procedure is not sufficient. Employers must inform their employees about the procedure and ensure a secure reporting climate, in which employees also feel comfortable to address misconduct. Employers still do not pay enough attention to this. A quarter of the works councils gives insufficient support to the efforts of the own organization to promote integrity. Also, not every organization has a safe reporting culture, according to the works council: • One in three thinks that employees do not feel comfortable to report abuse. • One in seven says there is a culture of fear in their own organization. • In the semi-public sector, the works council is least positive about the organizational culture.

Confidential advisor

Employers must also provide a good infrastructure for reporting. This includes, in addition to a reporting procedure, a confidential advisor, a code of conduct and a research protocol. The House for Whistleblowers also studied these aspects. In almost all organizations a confidential advisor can be found (89%), just like a code of conduct (80%). At the same time, there is enough to say about the current reporting structure. The counselor is still insufficiently visible and are not relied upon enough. Codes of conduct are insufficiently updated. Only 60% of employers have an internal research protocol. As a result, organizations are too often not prepared for internal investigations. And the most effective measures are taken the least: 46% have a written integrity policy, 47% have an ethics, compliance or integrity officer. This image is confirmed by the Eurobarometer on corruption of Transparency International, which gives an overview of the current state of corruption in Europe. The barometer shows that one third (68%) of Europeans thinks that corruption is widespread in their own country and the vast majority (79%) says that the links between the business community and politicians in their country lead to corruption. Just under three-quarters (73%) say that there is corruption in the national public institutions and that the measures against corruption are inadequate. Only a minority of all respondents says that there is sufficient transparency and supervision of the funding of political parties. A third (33%) of the respondents thinks there are enough successful prosecutions.

Organizations have every interest in a good reporting infrastructure. Through reports of alert employees, organizations can solve the problem internally, learn from it and prevent it from getting worse.

JahaeRaymakers provides advice to organizations for formulating integrity policy and the drafting of adequate reporting procedures.

Joyce Boonstra-Verhaert

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