USBO report: Whistleblowers Authority from an international point of view

In the past year, comparative research was carried out on behalf of the Whistleblowers Authority to examine whistleblowers’ resources in the Netherlands and a number of other countries. The research focussed on the situation in eleven countries that are all part of the Council of Europe or G20. Israel was also included in the research, because the resources in this country show many similarities to the situation in the Netherlands. The research was conducted by the Utrecht University School of Governance and the University of Greenwich.

Combination of resources

Among other things, the research revealed that the majority of the examined countries apply separate legislation to separate sectors. Also, the range of resources is often, as the researchers call it, fragmented. The situation in the Netherlands distinguishes itself by the fact that various whistleblower resources are brought together under one roof in a government-funded, independent administrative body that focuses on whistleblowing situations in all sectors. The Whistleblowers Authority combines its advisory role with research and prevention.

Legislation could be clearer

The researchers also suggest several points for improvement in the Whistleblowers Authority Act . For example, in contrast to other countries, the Dutch Whistleblowers Authority Act is ambiguous with respect to the forms of discrimination against which whistleblowers are protected. In addition, the Dutch Act does not include an unequivocal definition of the concept of ‘social importance’ and offers no possibility to reverse the burden of proof. When the reversal of the burden of proof applies, the employer must prove that any discrimination of the whistleblower is not due to his or her reporting of an abuse. In several other countries, forms of discrimination and the reversal of the burden of proof are included in the legislation.

Finally, the Dutch Whistleblowers Authority Act – also in contrast to other countries – does not authorise the Whistleblowers Authority to conduct official investigations and does not provide financial compensation for whistleblowers.

Read the complete report.

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