Whistleblower protection in public service

This law aims to improve the protection of whistleblowers who carry significant personal and professional risk. Said risk may amount to a serious deterioration in his health, especially in the face of pressure and intimidation of all kinds. This law puts employees and civil servants on the same level as whistle-blowers.

1. Definition of a whistleblower public official

Article 1 of the Law defines a whistleblower as a natural person who reports or discloses, without direct financial compensation and in good faith, information relating to a crime, offense, threat or harm to the general, violation or attempt to conceal the violation of an international obligation regularly ratified or approved by France, a unilateral act of an international organization taken on the basis of such undertaking, European Union law, law or regulation.

2. Better protection for whistleblowers of public officials.

First, section 6 of the law provides that whistleblowers are not civilly liable for damages resulting from their reporting or public disclosure when they had reasonable grounds to believe that the reporting or public disclosure of all that information was necessary to protect the relevant interests. Whistleblowers also enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution.

Second, whistleblowers cannot be subject to reprisals or reprisals for reporting or disclosing information. In particular, no agent may be subjected to the following measures:

  • Precautions such as suspension;
  • Disciplinary action, including demotion, dismissal of full-time agents, and dismissal of contract agents;
  • Rejection of a promotion;
  • change of appointment;
  • Negative examination of the report at a professional interview;
  • Coercion, intimidation, harassment or ostracism;
  • Failure to offer a permanent contract and non-renewal of a fixed-term contract in connection with the report;
  • Deductions from wages.

Thirdly, in the event of an appeal against an administrative decision constituting retaliation in the case of reporting a warning, the official will present elements of fact that would suggest that he reported or disclosed the information, because it is reasonable grounds to believe that the communication or public disclosure of all this information was necessary to protect the interests in question. The Administration will have to prove that its decision was duly reasoned. The judge will form his conviction after he has ordered, if necessary, all the investigative steps that he considers useful. Under the same conditions, the whistle-blower public official may ask the judge to allocate to him, at the expense of the other party, a reserve for legal costs in accordance with the respective economic situation of the parties and costs foreseeable in accordance with the procedure, or if his financial situation has seriously deteriorated due to for the report or public disclosure, reserve to cover its subsidies. The judge makes a decision quickly and may decide at any time during the procedure that this provision will be finally received.

This text is intended to establish a clear framework that allows each whistleblower to act calmly, without fear of reprisals, to report facts that are contrary to the law. Rather, it is a good design so that officers who consider themselves victims of harassment, for example, can speak freely and that the administration can effectively conduct fact-finding investigations to better protect the people who draw up protocols.

Dominic Volulawyer of the Paris Bar Association, Doctor of Public Law

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