Finnish legislation on Whistleblower Protection delayed
The Finnish Act implementing the Whistleblower Protection Directive will not enter into force by 17 December 2021, as required. Our experts have taken a look at the expected timeline and the effects of the delay.
As anticipated, the Finnish Act implementing the Whistleblower Protection Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/1937) will not enter into force by 17 December 2021 as required, partly due to the extensive feedback received on the draft Government Bill. According to a press release issued on 8 December 2021 by the Finnish Ministry of Justice, the Government Bill is scheduled to be presented to the Finnish Parliament in late February 2022. At the moment, it is difficult to estimate when the national legislation will eventually enter into force.
In its press release, the Ministry of Justice outlined that (i) whistleblowers cannot be protected under national WB law until the Act implementing the WB Directive enters into force; and (ii) for this reason, it is not practical to establish reporting channels before the legislation enters into force.
The Ministry of Justice has not commented on the WB Directive’s direct effect. Thus, in accordance with the doctrine of legitimate expectations, Finnish companies must be able to rely on the Ministry of Justice’s instructions relating to reporting channels. Hence, companies should not face negative consequences for failing to establish reporting channels before the national implementation of the WB Directive.
Nevertheless, Finnish companies ought to be mindful of the fact that the WB Directive’s direct effect cannot be entirely excluded to the extent that certain WB Directive’s requirements can be seen as sufficiently clear and precise. It should also be taken into consideration that the Finnish employment legislation itself provides relatively strong protection for employees (including situations where an employee has reported suspected misconduct), even though whistleblowers will not be protected by the national legislation until it enters into force.
Even though the delay in the national legislation may cause various challenges, it is important that the feedback received on the draft Government Bill is properly scrutinized. Hopefully, the delay will result in clear legislation that takes into account both the whistleblower and the pragmatic challenges that companies face when complying with the new requirements.
Please find a link to the Finnish Ministry of Justice’s announcement of 8 December 2021 here (in Finnish).
For further information relating to the Whistleblower Protection Directive and its national implementation, please see our recent articles on the topic (below).
Roschier will be holding a third seminar concerning whistleblowing at the beginning of 2022 once we have more clarity on the situation.