The EU Whistleblower Directive has not yet been transposed into national law. But the traffic light coalition will probably create facts shortly. The KÖTTER group of companies is prepared and already fulfils the future whistleblower protection requirements. With the otris whistleblower system, the company uses a solution that offers efficiency through automation without disregarding the high demands on security.
The topic of the Whistleblower Directive is highly relevant for KÖTTER Services. On the one hand, the KÖTTER Security division is Germany’s largest family-run security service provider – information from the staff helps with quality assurance in this sensitive environment. On the other hand, the group of companies has to manage a considerable number of potential whistleblowers: the family-owned company employs a total of 16,500 people in the four divisions Security, Cleaning, Personal Service and Facility Services. Countless people are in direct contact with them every day. If breaches occur when dealing with sensitive information or situations, an easy-to-use, anonymous reporting channel should be available to all involved.
The EU directive on whistleblower protection has not been implemented in time by the federal government. However, the law is to be passed shortly and is expected to come into force without a long transition period. Companies with 50 or 250 employees or more will then be obliged to set up internal whistleblowing units to protect the identity of the whistleblower. “It was important for us to be prepared for the new regulations on whistleblower protection in good time,” says Michael Meyer-Schwickerath, in-house lawyer and compliance officer in the corporate group, adding: “Furthermore, a whistleblower system is an important building block on the way to completing our holistic compliance management system.”
Digital solution: efficient and secure
Before selecting a suitable solution, it was clear that a digital whistleblowing system, with which incoming cases are processed independently, was the most sensible alternative. “How many tips we will receive in the future is difficult to predict. However, after the implementation of the Directive into German law, we expect an increasing awareness of such portals through media coverage. This will certainly also lead to increasing acceptance and ultimately to increased use by those affected,” Meyer-Schwickerath suspects. For this reason, an important selection criterion for the new system was automation functions that make the processing of reports more efficient. Another advantage KÖTTER sees in the digital solution is the guaranteed technical anonymity. This reduces inhibitions for whistleblowers who refuse to contact a natural person because of security concerns.
Rapidly ready for use
After the selection process, in which the costs, scope of functions and usability of different providers were compared, the KÖTTER group of companies opted for the otris whistleblowing system.
After a two-day implementation phase, the portal was up and running. “The implementation went really quickly and smoothly. The cooperation with otris is uncomplicated and easy to maintain,” says the compliance officer.
In practice, the solution convinces with a case handling process that is automated to such an extent that the case handler can focus on the assessment of the tip. Deadline reminders, documentation and archiving are workflow-supported. KÖTTER is also convinced by the solution’s data protection and IT security: all communication between the whistleblower and the company is encrypted end-to-end. The servers on which the portal is operated are located in ISO-certified data centres in Germany. “We are now well positioned, have added a module to our holistic CMS and are relaxed about the new whistleblower protection legislation,” sums up Michael Meyer-Schwickerath.
About the KÖTTER Group of Companies.
KÖTTER Services consists of four divisions: Security, Cleaning, Personal Service and Facility Services. In Germany, the family-run group of companies is represented by more than 90 branches at over 50 locations. 16,500 employees generated a group turnover of 589 million euros in 2021.
The photos used (banner, quote) were kindly provided by KÖTTER Services.