NZZ: “Denunciators or heroes? How Swiss companies deal with whistle-blowers”

Whistle-blowers have a hard time in Switzerland. In general, they are considered to be traitors and are threatened with personal and professional bankruptcy. In recent years, employees of Swiss companies who denounced grievances have had to leave the country, have even been arrested and committed to psychiatric care or prosecuted.

The current situation is unsatisfactory, according to Patrick Krauskopf, professor at the ZHAW School of Engineering in Zurich: “If relevant violations are kept under the cover, this is problematic from an ethical point of view as well as from an economic and business management point of view.” The protection of whistle-blowers is a controversial topic in Switzerland that has been debated in the country for more than fifteen years. Due to the lack of legal anchoring of whistleblower protection, the country has had to put up with criticism from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for years. Swiss lawyers regularly advise employees not to go public because under the current legal situation, it is completely unclear which reports are protected.

According to a recently published article in the Newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), Switzerland is, once again, in danger of falling behind. Since 17 December 2021, all companies in the EU with more than 250 employees must set up a reporting system. The new regime also affects Swiss companies that conduct business in the EU and employ at least 250 people at the respective location. From 2023 on, the limit will be lowered again, to 50 employees. But slowly there are signs of a change of heart. The article concludes that under the pressure of international developments, especially in the USA and the EU, Switzerland will not be able to avoid introducing whistleblower protection and that many Swiss companies have already introduced such protection or want to do so. Thus, they are ahead of Swiss policy.

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