On 12 January 2022, Luxembourg Minister of Justice Sam Tanson presented the bill to transpose the EU Directive 2019/1937 on the protection of whistleblowers. This bill aligns Luxembourg with EU requirements in protecting people who report breaches of EU laws.
How does the Luxembourgish bill compare to the EU directive?
The Luxembourgish bill is mostly a straightforward transposition of the EU Directive.
However, while the scope of the Directive includes only reporting breaches of EU laws, this bill extends the scope to Luxembourg’s laws as well. Per Article 1, whistleblowers will be protected against any retaliation when they report acts or omissions which fall under the laws of both the EU and Luxembourg. This extension clarifies which reports are under the protection of the law.
An “Office des Signalements” will be created to provide whistleblower guidance, raise public awareness and support implementation of the new law. We do not yet know how this office will be empowered, but the existence of such a controlling body demonstrates that whistleblower protection is taken seriously in Luxembourg.
Ambiguous areas of the whistleblower bill
The bill does not clarify if large entities need a local whistleblowing line in Luxembourg or if they can use a centralized system based in another country. This is particularly important for international companies that might already have a hotline based abroad.
Who is concerned in the whistleblower bill?
The scope of the law is broad and covers people working in the private sector and public agents. The scope includes employees, independent contractors, shareholders, board members, trainees and volunteers – even persons who have not started work but who have obtained information during recruitment or negotiation. Relationships of those persons, including relatives or colleagues, are in the scope as well.
What kind of information qualifies for whistleblower protection?
Basically, any information that would constitute a violation of EU or Luxembourg laws are in scope. The bill gives some exceptions: classified information, information involving national security, information under medical secrecy and attorney privilege. For the last two, the whistleblower is protected from a criminal offense if the reporting is proportionate and in the general interest.