France publishes decree implementing new whistleblower law

On October 3, 2022, France issued Decree No. 2022-1284 governing procedures for the collection and processing of whistleblower communications.  The decree provides guidance on the application of France’s new whistleblower protection legislation, Law 2022-401 of 21 March 2022, which came into force on 1 September 2022. 

Chapter I of the decree covers internal collection and processing of whistleblower communications.  Article 1 of decree clarifies the method used for calculating the number of employees in a firm – and hence the applicability of the whistleblower collection and processing provisions of the law.  Articles 2 and 3 set forth the appropriate mechanisms for collection and processing for different types of entities, and flesh out the law’s requirement that channels be made available oral or written whistleblower communications.  Entities are directed, in Article 4, to respond to whistleblowers within 7 days, under what circumstances they can require anonymous whistleblowers to prove their standing as such, and to provide additional information.  Article 4 also describes the circumstances under which a whistleblower file may be closed.  Articles 5 and 6 describe the qualifications and requirements of an entity’s designated whistleblower communications recipient, and specify the confidentiality protections accorded to whistleblowers.  Articles 7 and 8 allow for the whistleblower process to be managed by third parties, and mandate the dissemination of information about the channels and procedures accessible to potential whistleblowers.

Chapter II governs the collection and processing of whistleblower communications by authorities outside of the target organization.  Article 9 annexes the list of authorities eligible to receive whistleblower communications pursuant to Sapin II, while Article 10 addresses the availability of both oral and written channels for the transmission of whistleblower communications.  Authorities are allowed to forward or share whistleblower information with other agencies where appropriate.  Articles 11 and 12 describe the qualifications and training of an authority’s designated whistleblower communications recipient, and specify the confidentiality protections accorded to whistleblowers.  Article 13 details the visibility and accessibility of information about each authority’s whistleblower channels and protections, the type of information that can be reported, and the procedures for doing so.  Authorities must, pursuant to Article 14, re-assess their whistleblower procedures every three years, at a minimum.

Additional provisions bring French overseas territories such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia within the purview of the law, specify the time frame applicable to the provisions of the law, and expressly make the heads of government ministries responsible for carrying out the provisions of the decree.

Decree No. 2022-1284 

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