The Chamber of Representatives has passed a bill proposed by Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS), the Federal Employment Minister, which will see better protection given to any whistleblowers at risk of dismissal or legal action, as had been approved by ministers in July.
During a ministerial meeting this summer, the Federal Government approved to propose a law that would respond to the lack of provisions within Belgian law to protect whistleblowers in the private sector.
To that end, the Employment Minister proposed a bill in parliament, which was approved by MPs on Thursday. As a result, an EU directive from 2019 on whistleblower protection will be transposed onto the Belgian legal system.
The proposed protection
The law will now see three channels established for any potential whistleblowers: an internal channel within companies, an external channel with the authorities, and also one for the press.
Furthermore, anonymous reporting will not be restricted in the external channel, with the same being applied to the internal channel in companies employing over 250 workers.
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To that end, the Federal Ombudsman and the Federal Institute for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (IFDH) will be in charge of providing whistleblowers with improved information, guidance, and assistance.
Dermagne's proposal did however differ on certain points from the European directive, as whistleblowing on tax and social fraud will be incorporated into Belgian law. In addition, to better safeguard potential whistleblowing, the previously set out conditions at the European level for proving the whistleblowers' intention have been dropped.