Berlin (dpa) – Whistleblowers who reveal corporate grievances must continue to wait in Germany for better protection. Talks between the Union and the SPD on reforms have failed for the time being.
Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) criticized the Union for preventing an important step towards greater integrity in the economy and in public institutions. “That shows how little the Union has learned from scandals.” Union MP Jan-Marco Luczak stressed that the CDU and CSU wanted whistleblower protection. At the same time, you shouldn’t get in the way of pandemic businesses due to additional bureaucracy and regulation.
In December Lambrecht presented a bill to transpose a European directive into German law. However, she wants whistleblower protection to apply not only to reports of violations of EU law, but also to violations of German law. “Otherwise, anyone who reports a violation of European data protection rules would be protected, but not anyone who points to bribes, tax evasion or violations of German environmental protection or health and safety rules at work,” she explains.
Reporting offices will be established for such information. Anyone who is prematurely fired, bullied or intimidated after reporting an abuse, only needs to demonstrate this. The employer would then have to prove that the employee’s treatment had nothing to do with reporting complaints. The guideline is also intended to protect against salary cuts, negative reviews and denial of promotion as a result of whistleblower advice.
Luczak criticized that Lambrecht’s proposal went “without necessity” beyond the Brussels guidelines. This means a considerable additional burden for companies. “At the same time, we know that many companies are fighting to survive in the current pandemic,” he stressed. The Whistleblower Directive should therefore be limited to what the EU prescribes. “If Ms Lambrecht continues to adhere to an excessive regulation, it will be impossible to bring it into the cabinet,” he stressed.
SPD group leader Dirk Wiese accused the Union of only wanting to accept a “narrow gauge solution”. “Then, for example, employees are not protected against dismissals that indicate workplace safety abuses in their company,” he said.
Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) stressed: “Anyone who has the courage to sound the alarm when work safety rules are blatantly violated should not be fired.” This is especially true in times of pandemic, where health and safety at work is particularly important. “A screwed-up narrow-gauge solution to the detriment of brave workers, such as the CDU and CSU, will not exist with me,” he announced. The Union lacks the political will to dispel scandalous grievances.
The German trade union federation also called on the union to give up its blockade action. The union is denying employees the necessary protection, board member Anja Piel criticized. “Such employees are those who contribute with their integrity, their courage and great personal risk to a better and fairer work environment.”
The European directive must be transposed into German law by December 17th. If the dispute is not resolved quickly, it will hardly be possible before the federal election in September.