ABUSE OR IRREGULARITY AT PLASBOSSINADE ADVOCATEN N.V.

Article 1        Definitions

In these rules the following words have the following meanings:

  1. Employee: the person who performs work or who used to perform work in accordance with the employment agreement under civil law or the person who performs work or used to perform work other than ensuing from the employment;
  2. Employer: PlasBossinade Advocaten N.V., which employs persons who perform work, also taking into account persons that were formerly employed, in accordance with the employment agreement or who perform or formerly performed work other than ensuing from the employment;
  3. Suspicion of an abuse: the suspicion of an employee that there is an abuse in the organization where he works or has worked, or in another organization if he has come into touch with that organization because of his activities, insofar:

1st     the suspicion is based on reasonable grounds, ensuing from the knowledge the employee has acquired with his employer or ensuing from the knowledge the employee has obtained because of his activities carried out by another company or another organization and,

2nd   the public interest is at stake;

  • the (imminent) infringement of a statutory regulation, including an (imminent) danger associated with crime;
  • an (imminent) danger to public health;
  • an (imminent) danger to the safety of persons;
  • an (imminent) danger to the environment;
  • an (imminent) danger to a proper functioning of the organization as a result of undue acts or omissions;
  • an (imminent) infringement of rules other than a statutory regulation;
  • an (imminent) waste of public money;

 

4. suspicion of an irregularity: a suspicion, based on reasonable grounds, of an inaccuracy or injustice of a general, operational or financial nature which takes place under the responsibility of the organization and which is serious to such an extent that it falls out of the regular work processes and goes beyond the responsibility of the direct superior;

5. advisor: a person who pursuant to his function has a confidentiality obligation and to whom an employer can express in confidence his suspicion of an abuse;

6. person of trust: the one who has been appointed to act in that capacity for the organization of the employer;

7. Advice point Whistleblowers: the advice point that has been set up by the Temporary decision Commission advice- and referral point whistleblowing (see Bulletin of Acts and Decrees 2011, 427 and 2015, 202);

8. Advice department of the House for Whistleblowers: the advice department of the House, within the meaning of article 3a, paragraph 2, Institute for Whistleblowers Act;

9. Report: the report of a suspicion of an abuse or irregularity based on these rules;

10. Whistleblower: the person who has reported a suspicion of an abuse or irregularity based on these rules;

11. Daily management (hereinafter: DM): the body or the person which/who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the organization of the employer;

12. General Meeting of Shareholders (hereinafter: GMS): the body supervising the DM in the organization of the employer;

13. Contact person: the person who after the report has been received and in consultation with the whistleblower is appointed by the DM as contact person in view of counteracting a retaliation;

14. Investigator: the person to whom DM assigns the investigation into the abuse;

15. External body: the body which according to the reasonable judgment of the whistleblower is the most appropriate to be presented with the external report of the suspicion of abuse;

16. External third party: any organization or representative of an organization which/who according to the reasonable judgment of the whistleblower may be deemed to be able to resolve the suspected abuse, directly or indirectly;

17. Investigation department of the House for Whistleblowers: the investigation department of the House within the meaning of article 3a, paragraph 3, House for Whistleblowers Act.
 

The he-form used in these rules must be taken to mean the she-form as well.

 

Article 2         Information, advice and support for the employee

  1. An employee can express his suspicion of an abuse in confidence to an advisor.
  2. The employee can ask the person of trust or the Advice point Whistleblowers  (the advice department of the House for Whistleblowers) for information, advice and support with respect to the suspicion of an abuse.

Article 3         Internal report by an employee of the employer

  1. An employee with the suspicion of an abuse or irregularity within the organization of his employer can report this to any supervisor who in the organization hierarchically holds a position on a level higher than his own.  
    If the employee has a reasonable suspicion that the DM is involved in the suspected abuse or irregularity, he can also report to the GMS. In that case in these rules “DM” must be taken to mean “GMS”.
  2. The employer can also report the suspicion of an abuse or irregularity within the organization of his employer through the person of trust. In consultation with the employee the person of trust forwards the report to a supervisor within the meaning of the previous paragraph or to the GMS.

Article 4         Internal report by an employee of another organization

  1. An employee of another organization who because of his activities has come  into touch with the organization of the employer and who has a suspicion of an abuse within the organization of the employer can report this to any supervisor who in the organization of the employer hierarchically holds a position on a level equal to or higher than his own. If the employee of another organization has a reasonable suspicion that the DM is involved in the suspected abuse, he can also report to the GSM. In that case in these rules “DM” must be taken to mean “AVA”.
  2. The employee of another organization within the meaning of the previous paragraph can also report the abuse through the person of trust. In consultation with the employee the person of trust forwards the report to a supervisor within the meaning of the previous paragraph or the GMS.

      

Article 5         Protection of the whistleblower against retaliation

  1. The employer is not allowed to retaliate against the whistleblower for having properly reported, in good faith, a suspicion of an abuse or an irregularity within the employer, another organization, an external body as meant in article 14 paragraph 3 or an external third party under the circumstances as meant in article 14 paragraph 4.
     
  2. Retaliation as referred to in article 1 includes in any case adverse measures such as:  
  1. giving notice of dismissal, other than the voluntary resignation;
  2. terminating prematurely or not renewing a temporary employment;
  3. not conversing a temporary employment into a permanent employment;
  4. taking a disciplinary action;
  5. prohibiting the whistleblower or his colleagues to investigate, to speak in public, to use the work area and/or imposing a restraining order;
  6. appointing the whistleblower into another position;
  7. extending or limiting the tasks of the whistleblower, for other reasons than at his own request;
  8. placing the whistleblower elsewhere or transferring him, other than at his own request;
  9. refusing the request of the whistleblower to be placed elsewhere or to be transferred;
  10. changing the work place or refusing a request thereto;
  11. withholding salary increase, incidental remuneration, bonus or disallowing expenses;
  12. withholding promotion prospects;
  13. not accepting a sick leave or continuing to have the employee registered as being ill;
  14. rejecting a leave application;
  15. granting leave, other than at his own request.

 

3. Retaliation as referred to in article 1 is also at issue if there is a reasonable ground for reproaching the whistleblower about his functioning or for taking an adverse measure against him as referred to in paragraph 2 if such a reproach or such a measure is disproportionate compared to that ground.

4. If the employer, within a foreseeable time after the whistleblower has reported, takes an adverse measure against the whistleblower as meant in article 2, he motivates why he considers this measure to be necessary and why this measure is not related to the fact that the whistleblower has reported his suspicion of an abuse or irregularity properly and in good faith.

5. The employer ensures that supervisors and colleagues of the whistleblower refrain from each type of retaliation against the whistleblower for having properly reported, in good faith, a suspension of abuse or irregularity. This includes in any case:

  • bullying, ignoring and excluding the whistleblower;
  • making unfounded or disproportionate reproaches about the functioning of the whistleblower;
  • actually banning the whistleblower and his colleagues from investigating, speaking in public, using the work area and/or prohibiting contact, formulated in whatever manner;
  • intimidating the whistleblower by threatening with a certain measure or action if he continues to report;      

6. The employer will call employees who retaliate against the whistleblower to account for their behaviour and he may give them a warning or impose a disciplinary measure on them in this respect.

 

Article 6         Preventing retaliation against the whistleblower

  1. The person appointed on the basis of article 9 paragraph 6 discusses without delay, together with the whistleblower, which risks there are that adverse measures will be taken against him, in which way those risks can be reduced and what the employee can do if in his opinion he has been retaliated.
    The contact person ensures that this is laid down in writing and will present it to the whistleblower for his approval and signature. The whistleblower receives a copy thereof.
  2. If the whistleblower is of the opinion that he has been retaliated, he can discuss this with the contact person immediately. The contact person and the whistleblower also discuss which measures could be taken to prevent retaliation.  The contact person ensures that this is laid down in writing and presents this to the whistleblower for approval and signature. The contact person sends this report to the DM without delay. The whistleblower receives a copy thereof.
  3. The DM ensures that the measures necessary to prevent retaliation are being taken.

Article 7         Protection of other involved persons against retaliation

  1. The employer shall not retaliate against the advisor who is employed with the employer because he acts as an advisor of the whistleblower.
  2. The employer shall not retaliate against the person of trust because of his fulfilment of the tasks described in these rules.
  3. The employer shall not retaliate against the contact person because of his fulfilment of the tasks described in these rules.
  4. The employer shall not retaliate against the investigators who are employed with the employer because of their fulfilment of the tasks described in these rules.
  5. The employer shall not retaliate against an employee who is heard by the investigator in respect of making a statement properly and in good faith.
  6. The employer shall not retaliate against an employee because he provides  investigators with documents which in his reasonable opinion are of importance for the investigation.  
  7. Regarding retaliation against the persons as meant in paragraph 1 up till 6 Article 5 paragraph 2 up to 6 correspondingly applies.

 

Article 8        Dealing confidentially with the report and the identity of the whistleblower

  1. The employer ensures that the information about the report is kept in such manner that it is physically and digitally only accessible to those who are dealing with this report.
  2. All those who are dealing with a report do not disclose the identity of the whistleblower without his explicit written consent and they shall treat the information confidentially.
  3. If the suspicion of an abuse or an irregularity is reported through the person of trust and the whistleblower has not given his consent for the disclosure of his identity, all correspondence about the report shall be sent to the person of trust and the person of trust shall forward this to the whistleblower without delay.
  4. All those who are involved with a report do not disclose the identity of the advisor without the explicit written consent of the whistleblower and the advisor.

 

Article 9        Laying down, forwarding and acknowledging receipt of the internal report

  1.  If the employee orally reports a suspicion of an abuse or an irregularity to a superior or if he provides a written report with an oral explanation, this supervisor, in consultation with the whistleblower, takes care that it is laid down in writing and he shall present this written report to the whistleblower for his approval and signature. The whistleblower receives a copy thereof.
  2. If the employer reports a suspicion of abuse or irregularity to the person of trust orally or if he provides a written explanation thereof this person of trust, in consultation with the whistleblower, ensures that it is laid down in writing and he shall present this to the whistleblower for his consent and signature. The whistleblower receives a copy thereof.
  3. The supervisor to whom the report has been presented sends it to the DM without delay.
  4. If the whistleblower or supervisor to whom the report has been presented has a reasonable suspicion that the DM is involved with the suspected abuse or irregularity the supervisor immediately forwards it to the GMS. In that event in these rules “DB” should be taken to mean “GMS”.
  5. The DM sends to the whistleblower an acknowledgment without delay that the report has been received. The acknowledgment of receipt contains in any case a concise description of the report, the date on which it was received and a copy of the report.
  6. After having received the report the DM, in consultation with the whistleblower, immediately appoints a contact person in view of the prevention of retaliation.

 

Article 10      Dealing with the internal report by the employer

  1. The DM starts an investigation into the reported suspicion of abuse or irregularity unless:
  • the suspicion is not based on reasonable grounds, or
  • if beforehand it is clear that what has been reported is not related to a suspicion of an abuse or an irregularity.         

2. If the DM decides not to start an investigation research it shall inform the whistleblower thereof within two weeks after the internal report. In so doing the DM shall also indicate why it is of the opinion that the suspicion is not based on reasonable grounds, or that beforehand it is clear that that what has been reported is not related to an abuse or an irregularity.

3. The DM decides whether an external body as meant in article 14 paragraph 3 must be informed about the suspicion of an abuse.
If the employer informs an external body, the DM sends a copy thereof to the whistleblower, unless there would be serious objections to do so.

4. The DM shall instruct investigators who are independent and impartial to carry out the investigation and shall in any case not have the investigation carried out by persons who may possibly be involved or who may have been involved with the suspected abuse or irregularity.

5. The DM informs the whistleblower without delay that the investigation has been started and by whom the investigation is done. The DM then sends the whistleblower a copy of the instruction for investigation, unless there are serious objections to do so.

6. The DM informs the persons to whom the report relates about the report and about going to inform an external body as meant in article 3, unless this would prejudice the investigation or enforcement interest.

 

Article 11      Carrying out the investigation

  1. The investigators shall give the whistleblower the opportunity to be heard. The investigators take care of laying this down in writing and they shall present the whistleblower with this written record for his approval and signature. The whistleblower receives a copy thereof.
  2. Others may also be heard by the investigators. The investigators shall take care of laying this down in writing and they shall present this written record to the person who has been heard for his approval and signature. The person who has been heard receives a copy thereof.
  3. The investigators have access to and may ask for all documents which they reasonably consider to be necessary for carrying out the investigation.
  4. Employees are allowed to provide the investigators with all documents which they reasonably consider necessary for the investigators within the scope of the investigation.
  5. The investigators shall draw up a draft investigation report and they shall give the whistleblower the opportunity to make remarks in relation to this draft, unless there would be serious objections against it.  
  6. The investigators then draw up a definite investigation report. They shall send the whistleblower a copy thereof, unless there would be serious objections to do so.  
     
    Article 12      Point of view of the employer
     
  1. The DM informs the whistleblower within eight weeks after the report about its  substantive point of view about the reported suspicion of an abuse or an irregularity, also indicating the steps this report has led to.
  2. If it becomes clear that the point of view cannot be given within the set time-limit, the DM informs the whistleblower thereof, indicating within which term the whistleblower can expect the point of view.
    If the full term for that reason exceeds a period of twelve weeks it is also indicated why a longer term is necessary.
  3. After having concluded the investigation the DM assesses whether an external body as meant in article 14 paragraph 3 must be informed about the internal report of a suspicion of an abuse and also about the investigation report and the point of view of the employer. If the employer informs an external body, he shall send the whistleblower a copy thereof, unless there are serious objections to do so.    
  4. The persons to whom the report relates are informed in accordance with the manner in which the whistleblower is informed pursuant to paragraph 1 up to and including 3, unless this would prejudice the investigation or the enforcement interest.

 

Article 13      Hearing both sides in respect of the investigation report and the point of view of the employer

 

  1. The employer gives the whistleblower the opportunity to respond to the investigation report and the point of view of the employer.
  2. If the whistleblower in his response to the investigation report or point of view of the employer substantively indicates that the suspicion of an irregularity or abuse is actually not or improperly investigated or that there are significant inaccuracies in the investigation report or in the point of view of the employer, the employer shall substantively respond to this and if it is necessary he shall start a new or additional investigation. To this new or additional investigation articles 10 up till 13 apply correspondingly.
  3. If the employer informs or has informed an external body as meant in article 14 paragraph 3, he also sends to that external body the response given by the whistleblower to the investigation report and the point of view of the employer. The whistleblower receives a copy thereof.

 

Article 14      External report

1. After having reported a suspicion of an abuse internally, the whistleblower can also report externally if:

  • the whistleblower does not agree with the point of view in article 12 and if he is of the opinion that the suspicion has been wrongly disregarded;
  • the whistleblower has not received a point of view within the time limit as meant in article 12 paragraph 1 or 2.

2. The whistleblower can immediately report a suspicion of an abuse externally if he cannot in reasonableness be asked to report internally first. This is in any case at issue if it results from a statutory obligation or if there is:

  1. an acute danger, requiring an external report because of a considerable and urgent public interest;
  2. a reasonable suspicion that the person with the highest responsibility within the organization of the employer is involved with the suspected abuse;
  3. a situation in which there is a reasonable cause for the whistleblower to fear countermeasures;
  4. a clearly identifiable threat of embezzlement or destruction of documentary evidence;
  5. a previous report in correspondence with the procedure about the same abuse, which abuse has not been remedied;
  6. a duty to report immediately;

 

3. The whistleblower can report externally to an external body which in the reasonable opinion of the whistleblower will be the most appropriate for this purpose. An external body shall in any case include:

  1. a body that is responsible for detection of criminal offences;
  2. a body that is responsible for the monitoring of compliance with any statutory provision;
  3. another competent body in this respect to which the suspicion of an abuse can be reported, including the investigation department of the Dutch House for Whistleblowers.

4. If in the reasonable opinion of the whistleblower the social interest outweighs the interest the employer has in maintaining secrecy, the whistleblower can also report to an external third party who in his reasonable opinion may be considered to be able to end the abuse or to have the abuse ended directly or directly.
 

Article 15      Internal and external investigation into retaliation against the whistleblower

 

  1. The whistleblower who is of the opinion that adverse measures have been taken against him because he has reported a suspicion of abuse can request the DM to investigate the manner in which he is treated within the organization.
  2. The articles 10 up to and including 13 apply correspondingly.
  3. Paragraphs 1 and 2 apply correspondingly to the persons within the meaning of article 7 paragraphs 1 up to and including 6.

 

Article 16      Publication, reporting and evaluation

 

  1. The DM ensures that this regulation is published on PB-net and that it is made publicly available on the website of the employer.
  2. The DM annually drafts a report about the policy on dealing with a reported  suspicion of abuses and irregularities and the implementation of these rules. This annual report includes in any case:

                             

  1. information about the policy conducted in the previous year in respect of dealing with a report of suspicion of abuses and irregularities and the policy in this field that will be conducted in the following year.
  2. information about the number of reports and an indication of the nature of the reports, the outcomes of the investigations and the points of view of the employer;
  3. general information about the experiences of preventing the whistleblower from retaliation;
  4. information about the number of requests for investigation into the retaliation in connection with reporting a suspicion of a misuse and an indication of the outcomes of the investigations and the points of view of the employer.

 

Article 17      Entry into force of these rules and abolishment of the current rules

  1. These rules enter into force on 1 July 2016.
  2. These rules will be referred to as “internal whistleblower policy rules on dealing with reports of a suspicion of an abuse or irregularity within PlasBossinade Advocaten N.V.”, or briefly “rules for dealing with reports on suspicion of abuse or irregularity PlasBossinade Advocaten N.V.”