Whistleblowing hotlines are a hot topic for compliance professionals right now. Find out all you need to know here.
How does a digital whistleblowing hotline work?
A digital whistleblowing hotline is a software application that whistleblowers can use to submit a report – via a website, for example. It is therefore easy to integrate this reporting system into an existing compliance management system. It is also accessible at any time and from any location and provides a central contact point for whistleblowers. When reporting, whistleblowers fill out a case report form which requests important information about the case. Whistleblowers are free to leave their personal data or to report anonymously. In case of the latter, the reporting system creates a mailbox through which the case manager can communicate further with the whistleblower without them having to disclose their identity. If the compliance manager receives a report, he or she examines the case and initiates further steps.
How can companies benefit from whistleblowing systems?
Companies and organisations are currently facing new compliance challenges. EU member states are currently in the process of transposing the EU Whistleblowing Directive into national law. From 17 December 2021, companies with more than 250 employees must implement a whistleblowing hotline. From the end of 2023 this obligation will also apply to smaller companies with 50-250 employees. The Directive also applies public authorities, agencies and institutions as well as cities and municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants.
However, investing in a whistleblowing hotline (link) should not just be seen an onerous duty. It is beneficial for an organisation for many reasons.
Implementing a whistleblowing hotline means that an organisation:
- complies with legal requirements,
- protects itself and its employees from fines or imprisonment,
- improves its image with customers, partners, investors, banks and employees,
- enhances its professionalism,
- promotes a contemporary speak-up culture,
- protects itself from scandal,
- recognises risks earlier and thus
- can take early and proactive action against any violations.
Whistleblowing hotlines: FAQs
According to the Whistleblowing Report 2019, more than half of the companies surveyed had received whistleblowing reports. Large companies (more than 250 employees) had received an average of 65 whistleblowing reports per year. Smaller companies (20 to 49 employees) had seen around 16 reports per year. Almost every second report received by the companies surveyed had proven to be relevant and substantive.
Absolutely. The Whistleblowing Report 2019 shows that for those companies that allowed anonymous reporting, more than half of the initial reports were submitted anonymously. Many whistleblowers feel very insecure and fear reprisals, bullying or job loss.
Depending on the scope of functions, the implementation of a whistleblowing hotline can take anything from a few days to around four to six weeks.
Only digital whistleblowing systems provide maximum anonymity, security and GDPR compliance. Digital systems anonymise all personal data if needed and also, in the best case scenario, meet ISO certification security criteria.