The implementation of a whistleblowing mechanism is part of the compliance program mandated by the Sapin II Law for large companies (those with at least 500 employees and revenue above €100 million). In addition, Article 6 et seq. of the Sapin II Law greatly strengthens the protections for whistleblowers by introducing new rules, harmonizing existing laws, and prohibiting retaliation against whistleblowers.
All French companies employing at least fifty employees are required to set up a confidential whistleblowing mechanism (whether internal or external, at the company or group level) available for not only employees of the company, but also external partners of the company. French law now defines whistleblowers as “any individual who reveals or reports, acting selflessly and in good faith, a crime or an offense, a serious and clear violation of an international commitment that has been ratified or approved by France, of an unilateral act of an international organization adopted on the basis of such commitment, of a law or regulation, or a serious threat or harm to the public interest, of which the individual has personal knowledge.” These individuals are granted (i) immunity from criminal prosecution based on the breach of a secret protected by law where the disclosure was necessary and proportionate to safeguard the interests at stake and (ii) specific protection against retaliatory or discriminatory measures from a labor law standpoint, provided that the whistleblower has complied with the specific three-step reporting procedure provided for by law.