Changes in the Working Environment Act and the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act
From 1 January 2020, several amendments concerning the whistle-blower provisions in the Working Environment Act entered into force. At the same time, the employer’s duty to act under the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act was strengthened.
Amendments in the provisions concerning whistleblowing
The amendments in the Working Environment Act chapter 2A concerning whistleblowing mainly codifies the current state of law in order to make the provisions more accessible for employers and people in general. The amendments clarify, among others, what is considered to be "censurable conditions" at the employer's undertaking, what is considered as "retaliation" against an employee and how the employee can put forward a notification.
The employers' obligation to act after being notified is also amended as the law now requires the employer to investigate, within reasonable time, the circumstances that the notification concerns. Even though the amendments do not introduce specific requirements to the processing of a notification, the employer must have established whistle-blower procedures that describe how the employee can put forward a notification as well as the employer’s own processing when receiving, handling and following-up of a notification. The procedures should also contain deadlines concerning the processing, for implementing possible measures and for providing feedback to the whistle-blower.
One of the new amendments is that the provisions concerning whistleblowing does not only comprise employees and hired agency workers. They now also comprise other persons who carry out work for the employer, such as students, national servicemen, persons performing civilian national service, patients, persons who are placed in the company for training purposes and persons participating in labor market schemes, cf. the Working Environment Act section 1-6.
According to the amendments, an employee who have been subject to illegal retaliation can now demand compensation for both economic and non-economic loss regardless of the employer’s negligence.
Amendments to the employer’s duty to act under the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act
The amendments in the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act concerning the employer’s duty to act in connection with their work regarding equality and discrimination mainly comprise companies in the public sector as well as companies with more than 50 employees in the private sector. These companies are now obligated to, every second year, carry out a mapping of the pay connected to gender and the use of part-time work, and to document such mapping. Companies with 20 to 50 employees in the private sector are also obligated to carry out such mapping if one of the parties demands it. Furthermore, the employer must give an account of the state of the company concerning sex equality and what the company does in order to fulfill their duty to act. The account may be included in the annual report.