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Small business have just weeks to set up legally required complaints channel

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The deadline is looming by which small companies in Spain to set up the legally required complaints channel, appoint a complaints manager, and ensure protocols are in place to protect whistleblowers.

The legal requirement affects all companies that have between 50 and 250 employees, in line with Law 2/2023 on the Protection of Informants in Spain, a measure that affects 21,400 SMEs and that will come into force on December 1, 2023.

This law regulating the protection of people who report regulatory violations and the fight against corruption has as its main purpose to protect any person who reports an irregularity to avoid negative consequences, such as dismissal, transfer, demotion, or intimidation.

In accordance with this Law, companies are obliged to implement an effective reporting channel that guarantees the confidentiality of the informant. Those who do not comply will face sanctions of between €600,001, if it is considered a serious infraction, or €1,000,000 if it is very serious. However, simply having a system is not enough. You need a whistleblowing manager, someone who has received training, who can guide concerned employees and make decisions related to compliance with this crucial law.

In this sense, this figure has become more important than ever in the current corporate environment, since they will be in charge of promoting transparency and integrity in organisations, and giving confidence to informants. Furthermore, it is a fundamental pillar, since around 90% of informants prefer to contact the company first than with other tools such as the press or the authorities, according to the study “The EU Commission and the European Parliament clash over the protection of whistleblowers”, by Eva Fischer. For this reason, EQS Group, market leader in digital compliance systems in Europe, points out the 4 responsibilities that the manager of the internal information system will exercise in Spanish companies and the need to train him to perform them correctly:

Advocate for the complaints you receive: Your main responsibility is to receive reports of incorrect, illegal, or unethical practices within the organisation. This involves being available to listen to employees or any other interested parties who have relevant information about possible irregularities. Additionally, it is important to follow up to ensure that reported irregularities have been appropriately addressed and are not repeated in the future. The channel manager also has the responsibility to inform external authorities if reports involve serious legal violations.

Ensure confidentiality and anonymity of whistleblowers: Fostering a safe environment where employees feel protected when reporting wrongdoing has to be a priority. The channel manager must ensure that the identity of the informant is kept secret throughout the process.

Be impartial to the facts: Evaluating reports impartially and objectively is a key responsibility. This may involve investigating the facts, collecting evidence, and interviewing relevant witnesses to determine the veracity of the reports. Impartiality is essential to ensure that fair and equitable decisions are made.

Prevent retaliation: Protecting whistleblowers from retaliation will be on the radar as one of the primary actions. This involves defining protocols and taking measures to prevent any form of retaliation by the organisation or other employees as a result of the report. This protection may include specific legal measures and internal policies.

“Small and medium-sized Spanish companies do not usually have a person specifically for compliance issues. However, given this scenario, it is urgent that the manager of the internal information system be prepared and defined, in addition to being trained so that they can undertake these responsibilities in the best possible way.” explains Murray Grainger, Country Manager of EQS Group in Spain and Portugal.

The post Small business have just weeks to set up legally required complaints channel appeared first on Spain Today – Breaking Spanish News, Sport, and Information.

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