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House for whistleblowers act in the Netherlands

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The word Whistleblower in a book

House for whistleblowers act in the Netherlands

On 1 July 2016, the House for Whistleblowers Act (Wet Huis voor klokkenluiders) has come into effect in the Netherlands. This legislation stipulates that Dutch companies with 50 employees or more have to adopt a whistleblower policy. Such a policy has to provide the rules and regulations on how a company deals with whistleblower complaints about abuse, including confidentiality.
See update below this article.

House for whistleblowers and Works Council

The Act provides for the establishing of the so-called House for whistleblowers, i.e. the Dutch governmental institution that i) advises employees about the possibilities of whistleblowing and ii) investigates whistleblowers’ complaints about abusive situations. Regarding formal investigations by the House for whistleblowers, companies have to cooperate with queries and the institution has the power to demand files and records, unless in the event of national security, professional secrecy (e.g. of attorneys) or legislation that supersedes such powers.

Procedure

The Act provides that any (suspected) abuse should first be reported to the responsible officer of the company and subsequently to the House if the company does not take the complaint seriously. If it can not be deemed reasonable that an employee first complains with his or her employer, the complaint can be filed directly with the House for whistleblowers. We expect that in practice this will happen often. Complaints of abuse that are apparently without basis will be rejected. The same goes for complaints where another government body has jurisdiction, for instance the Authority for Consumer and Market Affairs, the Authority for Financial Markets, or the Public Prosecutor.

Whistleblower protection

An employee who makes a whistleblower complaint -to his employer, the House or another organization- may not be disenfranchised because of the complaint. Disenfranchised includes termination of employment , a transfer, a denial of a raise or the rejection of leave. The complaint must meet three requirements in order for the employee to make use of the employee protection of this new legislation. There must be a reasonable suspicion, the notification must be done in good faith and the employee must have acted with due care regarding procedures as well as materially.

Penrose and whistleblowers policy

Penrose Attorneys can assist with the drafting of a whistleblowers policy as well as with the approval procedure regarding the Works Council. Please feel free to contact us by phone +31 (0)20 2400 710 or e-mail.

Update

The House for Whistleblowers had to handle organizational difficulties at the end of 2017. In January 2018 the board resigned. An interim board tried to state the affairs in order. See the link of 28 June 2018.