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The Danish government: New Whistleblower Act shall also include sexual harassment

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calendar 20 December 2020
globus Denmark

In the light of the #metoo movement, the Danish government has called for tripartite negotiations with the objective to initiate specific measures to prevent and address sexual harassment at the workplace. The Danish government’s 14 new initiatives include, among other things, a suggestion that the implementation of the new EU whistleblower directive shall be expanded to cover reports of sexual harassment at the workplace.

With the coming Whistleblower Act, it will become safer for employees to report cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. Both the #metoo movement and studies throughout the last couple of years show that sexual harassment unfortunately still exists at many workplaces, taking form both as vulgar comments, approaches and other behavior of offensive character. With its 14 new initiatives, the Danish government will thereby attempt to prevent sexual harassment while contributing to ensuring that cases are brought to light to be addressed.

Specifically to ensure that cases of sexual harassment are brought to light and not kept secret as a consequence of the employee’s fear of sanctions, the Danish government is suggesting to expand the scope of the coming Whistleblower Act. In addition to the possibility to report breaches of financial services, money laundering, transport safety and information security, protection of the environment, consumer and data protection etc., employees should also have access to report cases of sexual harassment at the workplace.

What does the coming Whistleblower Act mean for your company?

Pursuant to the current rules, only a limited number of companies in Denmark are required to establish whistleblower schemes. With the implementation of the whistleblower directive, all companies with more than 50 employees must establish a whistleblower scheme. Consequently, far more Danish companies will be required to implement a whistleblower scheme. This also means that the Danish government’s new suggestion to expand the list of what employees can report breaches of to include sexual harassment will have much greater impact for many employees.

According to the new rules, whistleblower schemes must be established and operated either internally by a person or a department or externally, by a third party. For companies choosing an internal whistleblower scheme, an external whistleblower hotline can still be established to ensure anonymous processing and make employees feel more comfortable speaking out.

Whistleblower schemes must also be designed, established and operated in a secure manner, and it must also be possible for employees to report breaches in writing as well as orally. Additionally, employees must receive confirmation of the report within seven days.

The Danish government excepts that the draft bill on the implementation of the whistleblower directive will be introduced in the first quarter of 2021.

IUNO’s opinion

Many companies will be required to establish whistleblower schemes with the implementation of the new whistleblower directive, allowing employees to report breaches within certain areas of law. With the coming tripartite agreement, it’s expected that cases of sexual harassment will be included on the list in the coming Whistleblower Act which will increase focus on the protection of employees reporting hereon.

IUNO recommends that companies are thoroughly prepared for the coming Whistleblower Act. Companies can already now begin to establish safe and confidential whistleblower schemes and hotlines, where employees can report breaches of law and cases of sexual harassment.

We have previously described how IUNO can help companies within all aspects of whistleblower schemes here. We have also previously taken a closer look at the compensation levels in cases of sexual harassment here.

[Press release from the Danish Ministry of Employment of 25 November 2020]

With the coming Whistleblower Act, it will become safer for employees to report cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. Both the #metoo movement and studies throughout the last couple of years show that sexual harassment unfortunately still exists at many workplaces, taking form both as vulgar comments, approaches and other behavior of offensive character. With its 14 new initiatives, the Danish government will thereby attempt to prevent sexual harassment while contributing to ensuring that cases are brought to light to be addressed.

Specifically to ensure that cases of sexual harassment are brought to light and not kept secret as a consequence of the employee’s fear of sanctions, the Danish government is suggesting to expand the scope of the coming Whistleblower Act. In addition to the possibility to report breaches of financial services, money laundering, transport safety and information security, protection of the environment, consumer and data protection etc., employees should also have access to report cases of sexual harassment at the workplace.

What does the coming Whistleblower Act mean for your company?

Pursuant to the current rules, only a limited number of companies in Denmark are required to establish whistleblower schemes. With the implementation of the whistleblower directive, all companies with more than 50 employees must establish a whistleblower scheme. Consequently, far more Danish companies will be required to implement a whistleblower scheme. This also means that the Danish government’s new suggestion to expand the list of what employees can report breaches of to include sexual harassment will have much greater impact for many employees.

According to the new rules, whistleblower schemes must be established and operated either internally by a person or a department or externally, by a third party. For companies choosing an internal whistleblower scheme, an external whistleblower hotline can still be established to ensure anonymous processing and make employees feel more comfortable speaking out.

Whistleblower schemes must also be designed, established and operated in a secure manner, and it must also be possible for employees to report breaches in writing as well as orally. Additionally, employees must receive confirmation of the report within seven days.

The Danish government excepts that the draft bill on the implementation of the whistleblower directive will be introduced in the first quarter of 2021.

IUNO’s opinion

Many companies will be required to establish whistleblower schemes with the implementation of the new whistleblower directive, allowing employees to report breaches within certain areas of law. With the coming tripartite agreement, it’s expected that cases of sexual harassment will be included on the list in the coming Whistleblower Act which will increase focus on the protection of employees reporting hereon.

IUNO recommends that companies are thoroughly prepared for the coming Whistleblower Act. Companies can already now begin to establish safe and confidential whistleblower schemes and hotlines, where employees can report breaches of law and cases of sexual harassment.

We have previously described how IUNO can help companies within all aspects of whistleblower schemes here. We have also previously taken a closer look at the compensation levels in cases of sexual harassment here.

[Press release from the Danish Ministry of Employment of 25 November 2020]

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Søren

Hessellund Klausen

Partner

Kirsten

Astrup

Associate

Nina

Kumari

(Leave of absence)

Cecillie

Cathrine Groth Henriksen

Associate

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