FAQ about the whistleblowing portal

What is the whist­le­b­lo­wing por­tal?2023–10-12T12:37:15+02:00

The whist­le­b­lower sys­tem ser­ves to imple­ment Direc­ti­ve (EU) 2019/1937 on the pro­tec­tion of per­sons who report inf­rin­ge­ments of Uni­on law (so-called “Whist­le­b­lower Direc­ti­ve”) in the form of the natio­nal Whist­le­b­lower Pro­tec­tion Act (“HinschG”) pro­mul­ga­ted on 02.06.2023. From 17 Decem­ber 2023 at the latest, all com­pa­nies with more than 50 employees are obli­ged to set up and ope­ra­te inter­nal report­ing chan­nels or whist­le­b­lower sys­tems. By means of this whist­le­b­lo­wing sys­tem, employees of a com­pa­ny, sup­pli­ers, appli­cants and other per­sons asso­cia­ted with the com­pa­ny can report open or anony­mous infor­ma­ti­on about vio­la­ti­ons of the com­pa­ny against the regu­la­ti­ons spe­ci­fied in the HinschG under § 2 HinschG.

The com­pa­ny is not allo­wed to nega­tively dis­ad­van­ta­ge the whist­le­b­lo­wers in any way.

In addi­ti­on, this whist­le­b­lower sys­tem is also sui­ta­ble for report­ing vio­la­ti­ons of the Sup­p­ly Chain Due Dili­gence Act in accordance with § 8 LkSG.

What is the pur­po­se of the whist­le­b­lower por­tal?2023–10-12T12:12:49+02:00

The whist­le­b­lower por­tal pri­ma­ri­ly ser­ves to pro­tect tho­se per­sons who want to con­tri­bu­te to the detec­tion of vio­la­ti­ons by a com­pa­ny against the pro­vi­si­ons of § 2 HinschG. In addi­ti­on to ensu­ring the anony­mi­ty of a whist­le­b­lower, the com­pa­ny con­cer­ned can, thanks to the inco­ming infor­ma­ti­on, take inter­nal mea­su­res to stop vio­la­ti­ons and pre­vent them in the future. The­r­e­fo­re it´s no lon­ger neces­sa­ry to go via supe­ri­ors or other offices within the com­pa­ny who may have been invol­ved in the violation.

How do i sub­mit my hints?2023–10-12T12:21:29+02:00

The­re are four dif­fe­rent ways to sub­mit a hint.

Online cont­act form

When using the cont­act form, plea­se always name the com­pa­ny con­cer­ned as pre­cis­e­ly as pos­si­ble. If you are acti­ve within a group of com­pa­nies, plea­se name the com­pa­ny of the group to which your hints rela­tes. Man­da­to­ry fields are mark­ed with an *. When using the cont­act form, we requi­re — in order to ful­fil our legal obli­ga­ti­ons — that you pro­vi­de an e‑mail address. Fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on on this can be found under point 4 of this FAQ. Descri­be your hint as pre­cis­e­ly as pos­si­ble. If you wish to keep your hint for your records, you can print it out or other­wi­se save it befo­re sen­ding it.
After sub­mit­ting a hint, you have the opti­on of uploa­ding fur­ther docu­ments to a desi­gna­ted part of our cloud space. Plea­se let us know if you need a cloud space to upload your documents.

Whist­le­b­lower hotline

If you do not want to use the cont­act form, you can call our whist­le­b­lower hot­line at +49 (0)7731–9587–777 free of char­ge. The­re you can sub­mit your hint after a recor­ded mes­sa­ge. The­se recor­dings are encrypt­ed at our office and do not lea­ve the office infra­struc­tu­re at any time. The recor­dings can also only be lis­ten­ed to by the staff mem­bers who are desi­gna­ted to pro­cess your hint. Plea­se lea­ve your cont­act details for us to get in touch with you.

Mail­box of the ombudsman’s office
If you do not wish to use the cont­act form or call our whist­le­b­lower hot­line, you can also send us your hints and real­ted docu­ments direct­ly to rei­chert & rei­chert steu­er­be­ra­ter & rechts­an­walts­kanz­lei, attn: Ombudsman’s Office, Max-Porzig-Straße 1, 78224 Sin­gen. In this case, plea­se also pro­vi­de us with an address for cor­re­spon­dence or ano­ther way of cont­ac­ting you.

Per­so­nal appoint­ment with the ombudsman’s office
You can also make a per­so­nal appoint­ment with the ombudsman’s office on the pre­mi­ses of our law firm. We are available at Max-Porzig-Straße 1, 78224 Sin­gen or at Rei­chen­au­stra­ße 19a, 78467 Konstanz.

How can I remain anony­mous?2023–10-12T12:27:29+02:00

You are free at any time to use your real name and cont­act details or to give us a pseud­onym. Plea­se note that we requi­re you to pro­vi­de us with a means of cont­act in order to pro­cess your hint and to cont­act you fur­ther in order to com­ply with the legal­ly requi­red feed­back. If neces­sa­ry, you can use an e‑mail hos­ting ser­vice of your choice to crea­te an inno­cuous e‑mail address wit­hout any per­so­nal refe­rence. Plea­se do not use ser­vices such as “10minutemail.net” or simi­lar pro­vi­ders, as we will then no lon­ger be able to cont­act you.

When you access our whist­le­b­lower por­tal using a brow­ser, your data is encrypt­ed with end-to-end encryp­ti­on at the time you access the landing page of the form.  If you upload attach­ments to our cloud spaces and wish to remain anony­mous, plea­se also make sure to dis­gu­i­se your name in the­se docu­ments, if applicable.

We have no influence on the hard­ware and soft­ware (brow­ser, smart­phone, ope­ra­ting sys­tem, pho­ne, etc.) that you use to use the whist­le­b­lo­wing por­tal. The­r­e­fo­re, make sure that the sys­tem you use is free of mal­wa­re, such as key­log­gers, as this could pos­si­bly vio­la­te your anonymity.
You can find fur­ther tips on the fol­lo­wing web­site, among others: https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/anonymous-whistleblowing-guide/

We recom­mend that you do not use your company’s inter­nal IT infra­struc­tu­re to sub­mit a hint, as the­se struc­tures can be moni­to­red or acces­ses log­ged by the company’s IT secu­ri­ty sys­tems within the per­mis­si­ble scope.

As a whist­le­b­lower, am I pro­tec­ted from nega­ti­ve con­se­quen­ces?2023–10-12T12:33:33+02:00

Yes. You only need suf­fi­ci­ent reason to belie­ve that the­re has been a vio­la­ti­on of the regu­la­ti­ons men­tio­ned in § 2 HinschG and that the repor­ted infor­ma­ti­on is true. The­re is an expli­cit pro­hi­bi­ti­on of repri­sals or nega­ti­ve con­se­quen­ces against the whist­le­b­lower. Repri­sals do not only include dis­mis­sals, but also the trans­fer of tasks, exclu­si­on, non-promotion or refu­sal of a fur­ther trai­ning mea­su­re can con­sti­tu­te repri­sals in indi­vi­du­al cases. Whist­le­b­lo­wers who deli­bera­te­ly make fal­se reports, on the other hand, have no pro­tec­tion against nega­ti­ve con­se­quen­ces and may be obli­ged to pay com­pen­sa­ti­on for any dama­ges inflicted.

In case of doubt, your employ­er is obli­ged to pro­ve that a nega­ti­ve con­se­quence is not based on the fact that you have given a hint via the whist­le­b­lo­wing portal.

What kind of hints can be given?2023–10-12T12:36:39+02:00

If you would like to report vio­la­ti­ons by the com­pa­ny against a regu­la­ti­on men­tio­ned in § 2 HinschG, for exam­p­le tho­se con­cer­ning envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, data pro­tec­tion, traf­fic safe­ty, con­su­mer pro­tec­tion or pro­duct safe­ty, you can do so via the whist­le­b­lower por­tal. A com­ple­te list of rele­vant vio­la­ti­ons can be found under § 2 para. 1 no. 1–10 and § 2 para. 2 no. 1 and 2 HinschG.

Within the frame­work of the Sup­p­ly Chain Due Dili­gence Act, the whist­le­b­lower por­tal enables whist­le­b­lo­wers to point out human rights and envi­ron­men­tal risks as well as vio­la­ti­ons of human rights-related or envi­ron­men­tal obli­ga­ti­ons that have ari­sen due to the eco­no­mic actions of a com­pa­ny in its own busi­ness sec­tor or of a direct supplier.

The whist­le­b­lower sys­tem is of cour­se not a grie­van­ce box. Thus, dis­pu­tes bet­ween the com­pa­ny and an employee or bet­ween employees are not rele­vant in the con­text of the HinschG, as well as the Sup­p­ly Chain Due Dili­gence Act.

What hap­pens after I sub­mit a hint?2023–10-12T12:42:41+02:00

We are legal­ly obli­ged to con­firm receipt of your hint within 7 days of receipt. In a first step, we check whe­ther the sub­mit­ted hint falls within the respec­ti­ve appli­ca­ble legal frame­work. If we requi­re fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on from you for pro­ces­sing, we will cont­act you in the second step via the cont­act method you have reques­ted or specified.

What advan­ta­ges does the whist­le­b­lower por­tal offer me?2023–10-12T12:45:43+02:00

Anony­mous infor­ma­ti­on can reve­al abu­ses and vio­la­ti­ons of the law that are unknown to the manage­ment. As a whist­le­b­lower, you not only pro­tect your employ­er, but indi­rect­ly also yours­elf. Penal­ty pay­ments can lead to insol­ven­cy for a com­pa­ny and legal­ly com­pli­ant busi­ness ope­ra­ti­ons are a very important pil­lar for long-term busi­ness suc­cess and thus ulti­m­ate­ly for secu­re jobs.

My hint was not pro­ces­sed, what can I do?2023–10-12T12:47:38+02:00

We are legal­ly obli­ged to cont­act you after 7 days or 3 months and 7 days at the latest. If you do not pro­vi­de us with a cont­act opti­on, we will not be able to inform you about the sta­tus of your hint. If you do not hear from us in an indi­vi­du­al case, you are wel­co­me to cont­act us again.

Which per­sons at the ombudsmann´s office will hand­le hint?2023–10-12T12:51:42+02:00

Infor­ma­ti­on sub­mit­ted is only pro­ces­sed by a small num­ber of qua­li­fied employees of our firm who are spe­ci­al­ly trai­ned befo­re hand­ling your hint and are sworn to sec­re­cy under data pro­tec­tion law and pro­fes­sio­nal law. The team con­sists of data pro­tec­tion experts, lawy­ers and soli­ci­tors, as well as gene­ral cle­ri­cal staff. When pro­ces­sing a hint fur­ther, we will get in touch with the cont­act per­sons of your employer.

Will I know the result of the inves­ti­ga­ti­on of my hint?2023–10-12T12:54:15+02:00

Yes. Pro­vi­ded that your hint is sub­ject to pro­ces­sing under con­side­ra­ti­on of the legal pro­vi­si­ons, you will recei­ve feed­back from us after 3 months and 7 days after we recie­ved your hint at the latest. This feed­back will con­tain infor­ma­ti­on on whe­ther or which mea­su­res the com­pa­ny con­cer­ned has imple­men­ted to pre­vent any fur­ther vio­la­ti­ons, which mea­su­res are plan­ned for imple­men­ta­ti­on or how exis­ting vio­la­ti­ons will be remedied.

Do I incur any cos­ts for sub­mit­ting a hint?2023–10-12T12:55:45+02:00

No. You do not bear any cos­ts when sub­mit­ting a hint. The sub­mis­si­on of a hint does not con­sti­tu­te a cli­ent rela­ti­onship with the law firm rei­chert & rei­chert steu­er­be­ra­ter & rechtsanwälte.

Whe­re is my data stored?2023–10-12T12:59:25+02:00

All data is stored on our own ser­vers within the office buil­ding. As we are a firm of tax advi­sors and lawy­ers and are bound by pro­fes­sio­nal sec­re­cy, we have to pro­tect our IT infra­struc­tu­re in par­ti­cu­lar. Access to your data will be rest­ric­ted to tho­se employees who are desi­gna­ted to hand­le your hint. For fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on, plea­se refer to our data pro­tec­tion regulations.

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