There is no specific legal protection for whistleblowers in Venezuela and it is not common in practice.
However, many transnational and local companies in Venezuela have policies and code of conducts protecting those who step up and expose Corruption often goes unchallenged when people do not speak out about it. Witness accounts offer invaluable insights into corruption, and are powerful tools in the fight against it. From exposing multi-million dollar financial scams to dangerous medical practices, whistleblowers play a crucial role in saving resources and even lives.
But in some countries, blowing the whistle can carry high personal risk – particularly when there is little legal protection against dismissal, humiliation or even physical abuse. Controls on information, libel and defamation laws, and inadequate investigation of whistleblowers’ claims can all deter people from speaking out.
Whistleblowers are less likely to report workplace misconduct when their employers do not provide clear internal reporting channels. And in some settings, whistleblowing carries connotations of betrayal rather than being seen as a benefit to the public. Ultimately, societies, institutions and citizens lose out when there is no one willing to cry foul in the face of corruption. The solution?
Corruption, fraud, mismanagement, breaches of legal obligations. Some of these companies have hot lines through which employees are able to file a complaint with no obligation to say their names.
In those companies were no policies on whistleblowing protection are in force, workers who are willing to expose Corruption, fraud, mismanagement and/or breaches of legal obligations have no:
- Accessible and reliable channels to report wrongdoing;
- Specific protection from all forms of retaliation.
It is important to mention that the Organic Law on Prevention, Conditions and Environment at Work orders to every entity to have Prevention Delegates. They are the workers’ representatives before the Committee of Safety and Health at Work.
Among their attributions they have to receive complaints from workers regarding work conditions and environment. The Prevention Delegates are protected with bar against dismissals during the entire time they held position as Prevention Delegates, which protects them whenever they expose wrongdoings, as well as when they require from the employer the adoption of preventive measures or improvements of the levels of protection of the safety and health of the workers.
Similarly, the Organic Labor Law protects the members of the Union’s Board with bar against dismissal during the time their position last as such. They also have the obligation to receive the workers complaints regarding economic and labor conditions, and take all the necessary measures to require from the employer to solve the situation.
The bar against dismissal means that no employer is able to dismiss, demote or transfer a worker without just cause while such a protection lasts, without previously obtaining authorization to do so by the Labor Inspector Office.
The employers’ failure to comply with the prior request to dismiss the workers will give the latter the right to request their reinstatement, unpaid salaries and labor benefits. Failure to comply with reinstatement order may trigger six to 15 months of arrest when flouting an order to reinstate a worker protected by bar against dismissal or trade union rights.
However, currently there is also a special Bar against Dismissal as a general protection extended to every worker, except upper-management employees, up to December 31, 2014. It has been extended annually since 2002. It exceptionally protects whistleblowers due to the status as workers but not specifically for their actions regarding the exposure of Corruption, fraud, mismanagement and breaches of legal obligations.