Entry into force of the law of March 21, 2022 aimed at improving the protection of whistleblowers
On March 22, 2022, Law No. 2022-401 of March 21, 2022 aimed at improving the protection of whistleblowers came into force, transposing the EU Directive (EU) No. 2019/1937 of October 23, 2019 on the protection of persons who report violations of Union law, and modifying the general whistleblower protection system introduced by the Sapin 2 law.
The law adopts the following main changes:
• A broader definition of the whistleblower. The whistleblower must now act “without direct financial consideration” (instead of “disinterestedly”). The facts disclosed will no longer need to be “serious and manifest,” while “attempts to conceal” a crime or a misdemeanor may be the subject of a whistleblowing. Finally, the need for the whistleblower to have “personal” knowledge of the facts he is reporting is removed within the “professional context.”
• A new status protecting “facilitators” (trade unions, NGOs, close relatives, etc.) who are in contact with the whistleblower.
• A simplification of the reporting procedures allowing the whistleblower to choose between internal reporting and external reporting to the competent authority, to the French ombudsman (Défenseur des droits), to the courts or to a European body.
• A reinforcement of the whistleblower's protection measures, by completing the list of forbidden reprisals (for instance, intimidation, damage to his reputation on social networks, etc.) or by extending the whistleblower's non-liability (for example, criminally, for having withdrawn confidential documents containing the information he had knowledge of to launch his whistleblowing, in a lawful manner).