On 15 November 2017, the Chamber of Deputies definitively approved Bill no. 3365 B on so-called whistleblowing in both the public and private sector.
The new law introduces a well-known instrument derived from Anglo-Saxon systems in Italy, aimed at identifying and contrasting suspected wrongdoing within organizations, through the "protected" disclosure of information by virtuous employees.
Compliance with the new provisions requires the immediate adoption of specific measures by the Public Administrations and private companies to which the law is addressed in the hopes that the requested implementation will effectively contribute to the diffusion of a culture of ethics, legality and transparency.
With specific reference to the private sector, the law intervenes with respect to the administrative liability of companies under Legislative Decree no. 231/2001 by integrating the requirements referred to in Section 6 for the eligibility and effectiveness of the models. In addition to the standards required by current regulations, as a consequence of the entry into force of the new provisions, one or more reporting channels, including at least one IT channel, should be defined within the model to allow employees to report any wrongful behavior, and ensuring - in any case - the confidentiality of the whistleblower in managing of the disclosures and providing for the prohibition of repercussions and/or (direct or indirect) discriminatory acts connected with the disclosures. Furthermore, in the penalty system adopted by companies, specific penalties should be introduced for cases of breaches of the measures aimed to protect the whistleblower, as well as for those who carry out unfounded disclosures with malice or gross negligence.
In view of the primary interest for integrity of Public Administrations as well as for the prevention and repression of offences, the inclusion of a specific "exemption" from criminal liability for disclosures and/or complaints is finally provided for, thus resulting in the disclosure of information covered by "confidentiality obligations" under Sections 326, 622 and 623 of the Criminal Code. It is important to note, however, that the reporting/disclosure of the whistleblower is exempted from incrimination only if the whistleblowing is carried out in accordance with and within the limits set forth in the new Section 54 bis of Legislative Decree no. 165/2001 (for the public sector) and Section 6 of Legislative Decree no. 231/2001 (for the private sector), with modalities not exceeding the purpose of eliminating the wrongdoing and, in any case, carried out through the dedicated reporting channels.