18 May 2021

In 2013 Malta promulgated the Protection of the Whistle-blower Act. However, what we knew back then is about to change as now more companies will need to comply with the EU Whistle-blower Protection Directive by December 2021, by which date the Directive should be transposed into Maltese law. One fundamental difference is that now companies with more than 50 employees in the European Union need to comply to this law. Here are some basic facts:

What is a whistle-blower?

“whistle-blower” means any employee who makes a disclosure to a whistleblowing reporting officer or a whistleblowing reports unit, as the case may be, whether it qualifies as a protected disclosure or not under this Act (Protection of the Whistle-blower Act)

A whistle-blower is a worker who reports certain types of wrongdoing within an organisation. This will usually be something that the individual would have seen at work (although this may not always be the case). The wrongdoing that is disclosed must be in the public interest. In other words, it must affect others, and whilst the current Act already provides a list of the types of wrongdoings which may constitute protected disclosures, the Directive aims to add further ones.

Whistle-blowers are protected by law – for instance, they are not to be treated unfairly or dismissed in case of a protected disclosure being made.

As defined by law:

Who is protected by law?

The persons who are to be guaranteed protection under the law will be largely extended under the Directive, encompassing:

  • Workers & self-employed persons
  • Shareholders, administrators, managers, or supervisory body members of an organisation, including volunteers and trainees (paid/unpaid)
  • Persons working under contractors/subcontractors/suppliers
  • Former employees
  • Job recruits
  • Facilitators (a natural person who assists a reporting person in the reporting process in a work-related context, and whose assistance should be confidential)
  • Persons connected with the reporting person at risk of retaliation (work context)
  • Legal entities owned by/engaging/connected to the reporting person or connected
    (work context)

Complaints that do not count as whistleblowing

Personal grievances (by way of example, harassment and discrimination) are not covered by the whistleblowing law, unless the particular case is in the public interest.

What do we need to do?

A company is required to have procedures in place for receiving and processing reports of “improper practices” made by those protected under the law. Each employer (including the public administration) must have internal whistleblowing procedures and a whistleblowing reporting officer i.e. a person to whom a protected disclosure may be made internally within the employer.

Help is at hand if you need assistance with drafting the adequate procedures or you need an external whistleblowing reporting officer, please feel free to reach out to us to tell you more about our services.