CIPD: Whistleblowers must come forward before 30 November deadline, says employer. Volkswagen (VW) has urged employees with information about the emissions scandal to blow the whistle before 30th November and in return they will not face damage claims or lose their jobs.
The scandal, where some VW cars were producing 40 times the nitrous oxide emissions legally allowed in the US, is being investigated by American law firm Jones Day.
In a letter to employees, VW brand chief Herbert Diess said union employees who contacted internal investigators would be exempt from dismissal but might be transferred to other duties. The offer does not apply to managers.
Since the emissions scandal was uncovered, VW has not produced an explanation of what happened or who in the company is responsible. Diess said the offer was being made in the interests of “full and swift clarification” to “employees covered by collective bargaining agreements who get in touch promptly, but no later than November 30, 2015”.
The letter added that employees “may rest assured that the company will waive consequences under labour law such as the termination of employment, and will not make any claim for damages”.
While the company can ensure employees who whistleblow are not sacked, they cannot protect them from criminal charges.
Georgina Halford-Hall, operations director at Whistleblowers UK, said the case highlighted the overwhelming situation whistleblowers face. “Lots of people in management and the supply chain will know and will have turned a blind eye because it is about reputation over responsibility.
“The engineers ethical principles are clear – they do have to disclosure any actual or potential danger to the public or the environment. I would guess one of the key issues is that the business does not actually know how to handle whistleblowing. Businesses have policies and procedures in their organisations but somehow fail to follow them.
“My gut reaction is that this sounds like an ultimatum and not implementation and recognition of employee rights. [Volkswagen] also ought to be looking at why employees didn’t come forward sooner or what happened to those who did come forward and how the system became corrupted.”