Spanish Whistleblowing Legislation

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The new Spanish whistleblowing legislation, Law 2/2023, was introduced on 21st February 2023 in response to the EU Whistleblowing Directive. This law is a significant step forward in promoting transparency and accountability within both public and private sectors.

Requirements for Employers

The law requires companies with 50 or more employees to establish an internal reporting channel. This channel should allow individuals to disclose information or raise concerns whilst ensuring their anonymity. Employers must also appoint a whistleblowing officer.

If the entity has a website, information regarding the internal channel must be included on the home page, in a separate and easily identifiable section.

The internal reporting channels must:

  • Allow the reporting of breaches, whether in writing or orally.
  • Be secure and ensure the confidentiality of the file.
  • Have a policy or strategy that sets out the general principles of the system, and which must be published by the entity or body.
  • Have a procedure for managing the information received.
  • Establish guarantees to protect reporting persons.

Reports must be investigated within three months, but this can be extended for an additional three months.

Companies with more than 250 employees must implement their internal whistleblower channels within 3 months; companies with between 50 and 249 employees, before 1st December 2023.

Protection for Employees

The law protects any whistleblower in both the private and public sector who discloses infringements in an employment or professional context. This includes employees, freelancers, volunteer staff, trainees, contractors’ employees, subcontractors, suppliers, legal representatives, and persons related to the whistleblower.

Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation. This means that employers cannot take adverse actions against employees for reporting infringements. The law applies even after any work-based relationship has ended, ensuring long-term protection for whistleblowers.

The law requires that the whistleblowing system be secure and ensure the confidentiality of the file. This means that the identity of the whistleblower is kept confidential, protecting them from potential backlash.

Consequences of Breaching Compliance

The consequences of non-compliance with the new Spanish whistleblowing legislation are severe. A breach of the obligation to have an internal reporting system is considered a serious infringement.

Financial Sanctions

Financial penalties for legal entities range from €300,000 to €1,000,000. For offences committed by natural persons, the penalties range from €1,000 to €300,000.

Additional Measures

In addition to financial penalties, there are other measures that can be imposed for serious infractions. These include:

  • A public reprimand
  • Prohibition of obtaining subsidies or other tax benefits for a maximum period of four years
  • Prohibition of contracting with the public sector for a maximum term of three years

These measures underscore the importance of compliance with the new law. It is crucial for organisations to establish appropriate internal reporting systems and protect whistleblowers to avoid these severe penalties. Utilising an external whistleblowing hotline provider like Safecall can be a significant step towards ensuring compliance.

Reception of the Law

The reception of the new Spanish whistleblowing legislation has been mixed. While it is seen as a long-awaited step towards transparency and accountability, some defence lawyers have expressed concerns that it could prove tricky for companies to comply with new self-reporting obligations. On the other hand, campaign groups have argued that the legislation does not sufficiently protect whistleblowers.

Importance of External Whistleblowing Hotline Provider

Utilising an external whistleblowing hotline provider like Safecall is crucial for organisations. Safecall, a leading whistleblowing service provider, offers anonymous whistleblower hotlines, corporate whistleblower hotlines, fraud prevention call lines, employee helplines, and whistleblowing online reporting systems. These services allow employees to report their concerns to the highest levels of management.

Safecall’s services help safeguard your organisation, your employees, and your reputation. They provide reliable, independent, expert workplace investigation support and management. In the 20+ years they have been whistleblower hotline providers, they have successfully managed tens of thousands of whistleblowing cases on behalf of their clients and their employees.

External Workplace Investigation Providers

External workplace investigations can play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with the new Spanish whistleblowing law. The law requires that whistleblowing reports are investigated within three months. Utilising a specialist, external provider can ensure an efficient, expert-led investigation is conducted in a timely manner.

External investigators provide an independent and unbiased perspective, which is essential for maintaining trust and credibility. External investigators ensure that the investigation is free from internal influences and biases.

In conclusion

The new Spanish whistleblowing law is an important step towards promoting transparency and accountability in Spain. Although, its mixed reception means that workers may not have high confidence levels in the protection it offers. The onus is now on organisations to engender as much trust as possible in their commitment to facilitating reports of wrongdoing and protecting those willing to raise a concern. Organisations should take the necessary steps to comply with this law, including utilising the services of an external whistleblowing hotline provider like Safecall.

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