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Tough penalties for harassing whistleblowers

  • October 13, 2021
  • , The Japan News , 3:55 p.m.
  • English Press

The government plans to take disciplinary action against executives who psychologically harass whistleblowers to bolster protections for people who report corporate malfeasance, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.


According to sources, specifications for the whistleblower protection guidelines established in August will include details of the disciplinary action when they are released in the near future.


The government’s decision is aimed at preventing employers from retaliating against employees who report suspected wrongdoing.


The revised Whistleblower Protection Law will take effect on June 1 next year.


The government released guidelines in August, requiring companies to set up a point of contact for reporting internal problems and other necessary measures.

The guidelines included a provision for disciplinary action to be taken against executives who treat whistleblowers unfairly by imposing such punishments as dismissal, demotion and salary cuts.


It is now understood that psychological harm will also be interpreted as mistreatment.


The guidelines aim to establish a system that makes it possible to take disciplinary action against executives to prevent the mistreatment of whistleblowers and encourage the reporting of wrongdoing.


The guidelines also state that the contact point does not have to be within the company, and it could also be established at an outside organization such as a law firm.


It is assumed that several small and midsize companies will jointly outsource the functions of the office.


The guidelines call for the establishment of dedicated phone numbers and email addresses to ensure that people who can view the information are limited to the minimum number possible to prevent the content of whistleblowing reports from being leaked to anyone other than the person in charge of the office.


The guidelines also stipulate that records of communication with whistleblowers and the browsing history of points of contact should be kept.


The law requires companies and organizations with over 300 employees to establish an investigation system and point of contact for the reporting of malfeasance. Firms with 300 or less employees are obliged to make efforts.


Points of contact are obliged to keep information from whistleblowers confidential and face fines of up to ¥300,000 for violating the law.

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