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New law in whistleblowing in France

Major Changes on Whistleblowing in France, Lexology 
Blog The Anticorruption Blog Squire Patton Boggs France June 16 2017

From January 1, 2018, there will be an obligation on almost all employers to implement reporting/whistleblowing schemes.

France has historically been very reluctant to support workplace whistleblowing, especially anonymously. Whistleblowing schemes were effectively only authorized in 2005 to permit US companies to comply with their SOX obligations. Those regulations were very restrictive, limited to employees and only in relation to certain legal breaches.

However, since December 2016, we now have a law relating to “transparency, the fight against corruption and modernization of business life,” also known as “Sapin 2.” This has introduced a number of changes, including the obligation to implement whistleblowing schemes and anti-corruption compliance programs.

Definition of Whistleblower

Sapin 2 Law defines a whistleblower (in French “lanceur d’alerte”) as:

  • Any individual (i.e., not limited to employees)
  • Acting in good faith
  • Reporting or revealing a crime, a serious and manifest breach to an international treaty, a serious breach of a law or regulation, or a serious threat or harm to the public interest
  • Of which he or she has personal knowledge……….

Principles Governing Reporting Schemes

  • Reporting schemes must protect the identity of the whistleblower, the identity of any person incriminated and the information collected. The disclosure of any of these details carries up to two years’ imprisonment and a €30,000 fine (€150,000 for corporations)……….

Breach of Secrecy by the Whistleblower

A whistleblower will not be liable for breaching a secrecy obligation by law provided that:

  • The disclosure is necessary and proportionate for the protection of the interests at stake, and
  • The reporting procedures provided by law are complied with

However, Sapin 2 does not allow a whistleblower to disclose information covered by doctor/patient or client/lawyer professional secrecy or national security.

No Retaliation

Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation in the hiring process, in terms of access to an internship or professional courses or in salary or otherwise. However, where the report is made in bad faith, the employee can:

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June 19, 2017 - Posted by | civil liberties, France

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