I - Background to WHISTLEBLOWING
In order to implement the WHISTLEBLOWING procedure, which is governed by Law 93/2021, it is important to define functional rules that allow the creation of internal whistleblowing channels in the companies.
The act of whistleblowing is considered relevant to accommodate behaviours aimed at sanctioning conducts considered illegal, fraudulent or corrupt, in an exempt and impartial manner.
Internal whistleblowing channels:
- They shall allow the secure submission and follow-up of complaints, guaranteeing the integrity and conservation of the complaint, the confidentiality of the identity or anonymity of the whistleblowers and the confidentiality of the identity of third parties mentioned in the complaint, and also guaranteeing that unauthorised persons do not access the content and processing of the complaint process.
- They shall be internalised and the necessary procedures shall be defined, as well as the way in which they are to be carried out;
- They must guarantee the designation of persons responsible for receiving the complaint and managing the procedure;
- They must guarantee independence, impartiality, confidentiality, data protection, secrecy and the absence of conflicts of interest in the performance of their functions.
The creation of the Whistleblowing policy and procedure has the following main objectives:
- To define the guiding principles of the procedures for receiving, processing, recording and keeping communications of irregular practices;
- Ensure the possibility of admitting anonymous reports of irregularities;
- Ensure the adoption of preventive measures to avoid incorrect or irregular acts.
II - Procedure and General Principles
Characteristics of the implemented process:
1 - Implement a secure whistleblowing channel, also able to protect anonymity.
Companies with more than fifty employees must create a safe channel for denunciations so that employees can report incidents, in written or verbal form. Internally, organisations should have adequate resources to implement the policy.
2 - Ensure that all employees know how to report any irregularities they are aware of and that they are aware of the internal policy on this matter.
3 - Within ninety days, organisations should respond and follow up the whistleblowing process. The process must be agile, clear and objective so that the whistleblower knows that the facts reported are being analysed and the necessary steps to resolve them are being followed. Likewise, organisations should keep their workers informed about the consequences of infringing the rules that contextualise the denunciation, as well as the developments of the process.
4 - Ensure that the organisations receiving the complaint have the means to protect the whistleblower who acts in "good faith", namely from retaliation, such as dismissal, suspension, humiliation, intimidation or other types of sanctions such as being denied help or having negative performance evaluations without justification.
Thus, the general procedure should ensure:
(a) The creation and implementation of an internal whistleblowing channel in companies serves to institute a mechanism to enable the secure submission and follow-up of complaints;
b) The completeness, integrity and conservation of complaints
c) The confidentiality of the identity or anonymity of whistleblowers, as well as of the identity of third parties or entities mentioned in the complaint
d) The impediment of access by unauthorised persons to the information in question
e) The independence, impartiality, confidentiality, data protection, secrecy and absence of conflicts of interest among the people and departments designated to receive and process complaints
f) The immediate deletion of all personal data that is not relevant for the processing of the complaint.
III - Specific Procedure
1 - COMPLAINTS
Complaints shall be submitted in writing by completing a document made available on the company's website and immediately accessible to any employee.
The whistleblower should fill in the document referred to, either electronically or on paper, sending it to the email firstname.lastname@example.org, which is exclusive for the reception of communications on this matter and is of the exclusive consultation of the person responsible for this matter, Daniela Neves. The form may be anonymised and the information which allows the identity of the whistleblower to be checked has restricted access, reserved for those who receive and deal with the complaints.
The person responsible for the communication and information management functions in the management sector, and has an in-depth knowledge of the company's organisation and its values.
The identity of the whistleblower may only be disclosed:
- To comply with a legal obligation or court order; and
- After communication to the whistleblower, in writing, of the reasons for the disclosure of the data, unless this communication compromises investigations or legal proceedings.Whistleblower protection:
Legal protection is guaranteed to whistleblowers who report or publicly disclose infractions whenever they do so in good faith and have serious grounds to believe that the information they report is true. The law prohibits the practice of acts of retaliation against the whistleblower. Acts of retaliation are deemed to be acts or omissions, including threats and attempted acts or omissions, which, directly or indirectly, in a professional context and motivated by internal or external whistleblowing or public disclosure of the infraction by the whistleblower, cause or may cause the whistleblower, unjustifiably, to suffer pecuniary or moral damage.
2 - HANDLING OF THE COMPLAINT
Once the complaint has been received, it is necessary to proceed to the investigation stage, and there is a procedure in place to follow up on the complaint.
The person in charge of this circuit analyses the content of the complaint and the documents that accompany it, and has the autonomy to request any documents and information from the organisation in order to carry out this analysis fully and completely.
After the analysis, the person in charge must prepare a report describing the actions taken and the conclusions reached, keeping this report exclusively for him/her and ensuring that no third party has access to it, either in paper format (when printed), or in computerised format.
Thus, the person in charge of managing this procedure, elaborating and managing the necessary documents is Daniela Neves, who also manages the email dedicated to this subject.
The essential stages of this circuit are as follows:
Registration: The whistleblower registers his/her complaint on a form accessible in the company IT system, sending the same duly completed to the email email@example.com.
Analysis and processing: The complaints received are entered into a reserved IT folder in the system, as well as a document folder with reserved access, followed by the respective workflow, analysis and conclusions.
Conclusion and filing: The person with authority for the purpose carries out the analysis and documents the conclusion of the complaint by email addressed exclusively to the complainant.
3 - CONCLUSION OF THE PROCEDURE
The complainant is informed at all times during the procedure of the status of the steps taken, and is notified of the decision taken within 90 days of receipt of the complaint by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IV - Costs and Penalties for non-compliance with the law:
The fines for non-compliance with the Whistleblower Protection Act are divided into very serious and serious sanctions.
Preventing the submission or follow-up of a complaint constitutes a very serious offence punishable by a fine of between €1,000 and €25,000 if the agent is a natural person, or between €10,000 and €250,000 if the agent is a legal person.
Not having an internal whistleblowing channel, or offering such a channel without the proper guarantees, constitutes a serious offence punishable by a fine of between €500 and €12,500 if the perpetrator is a natural person, or between €1,000 and €125,000 if the perpetrator is a legal person.
The company's ethical values:
Bolseira guides all its activity, internally and externally, by the following values, intrinsic to its mission and vision:
- We are a paper transformation company using the most advanced technology, complying with high quality standards for customer satisfaction;
- We aim to be leaders in the production of low grammage paper sachets in the Iberian Peninsula, transmitting confidence, commitment, leadership, integrity and above all, respect.
The Whistleblowing policy has these ethical values as essential principles of its action, which are executed daily with all those who interact with the Company, and are also part of the company's social responsibility to the community in which it operates.
As the social and legal dynamics are evolving, this document is incremental in nature and will be altered whenever it is deemed appropriate. Its first version will be formalised on 9th August 2022, and employees will be informed of it through the appropriate means.