I - Contextualisation on WHISTLEBLOWING
In order to implement the WHISTLEBLOWING procedure, which is ruled by Law 93/2021, it is important to define functional rules that allow the creation of whistleblowing channels in the companies.The act of whistleblowing is considered relevant to accommodate behaviours aimed at sanctioning conducts considered illegal, fraudulent or corrupt, in an exempt and impartial way.
The creation of the Whistleblowing policy and procedure has as its main objectives:
• Define the guiding principles of the procedures for receiving, processing, recording and storing reports of irregular practices;
• To ensure the possibility of admitting anonymous reports of irregularities;
• To ensure the adoption of preventive measures to avoid incorrect or irregular acts.
II - General Principles
Characteristics of the implemented process:
1 - Implement a secure whistleblowing channel, also able to protect anonymity.
2 - Ensure that all employees know how to report irregularities they know of and that they are aware of the internal policy on the matter in full compliance with the Code of Conduct.
3 - Within ninety days, organisations must respond and follow up on the complaint process. The process must be agile, clear, and objective so that the whistleblower knows that the reported facts are being analysed and the necessary steps are being taken to resolve them. Likewise, organisations must keep their employees informed about the consequences of breaking the rules that contextualise the complaint, as well as the advances of the process.
4 - Ensure that the organisations receiving the complaint have the means to protect the whistleblower who acts in "good faith", namely from retaliation such as termination of contract, suspension, humiliation, intimidation or other types of sanctions such as being denied help or having negative performance reviews without justification.
Thus, the general procedure should ensure:
a) The creation and implementation of an external whistleblowing channel in companies serves to establish a mechanism to enable the secure submission and follow-up of complaints;
b) The thoroughness , integrity and preservation of complaints;
c) The confidentiality of the identity or anonymity of whistleblowers, as well as the identity of third parties or entities mentioned in the complaint;
d) The impediment of access by unauthorised persons to the information in question;
e) The independence, impartiality, confidentiality, data protection, secrecy, and absence of conflicts of interest among the persons and departments designated to receive and handle the complaints;
f) The immediate elimination of all personal data that is not relevant to the processing of the complaint.
III - Specific procedure
1 - COMPLAINTS
Complaints are submitted in writing by filling out the form available on the company´s website or by email, anonymously or with identification of the complainant.
The whistleblower must fill it in by computer, or in writing by sending the occurrence to the email firstname.lastname@example.org, which is exclusive for the reception of communications in this matter and is of the exclusive consultation of the persons responsible in this matter, Bruno Romão and India Sampson. The form can be anonymised and the information that allows the identity of the whistleblower to be checked has restricted access and is reserved for those who receive and handle the reports.
The person responsible for the communication and information management works in the management sector, having a deep knowledge of the company´s organisation and its values.
The identity of the whistleblower may only be disclosed:
• To fullfill a legal obligation or court order;
• After communication to the whistleblower, in writing, of the reasons for the disclosure of the data, unless this communication compromises the investigations or legal proceedings.
Legal protection is guaranteed to whistleblowers who report or publicly disclose infractions whenever they do so in good faith and have serious grounds for believing, that the information they report is true. The law prohibits the practice of acts of retaliation against the whistleblower. Acts of retaliation are considered to be acts or omission, including threats and attempted acts or omission, which, directly or indirectly, in a professional context and motivated by the internal or external reporting or public disclosure of the infraction by the whistleblower, cause or may unreasonably cause the whistleblower to suffer pecuniary or moral damage.
Responsibility of the whistleblower
• The reporting or public disclosure of an infraction in accordance with the requirements imposed by this law shall not in itself constitute grounds for disciplinary, civil, administrative or criminal liability of the whistleblower.
• Without prejudice to the secrecy regimes safeguarded by the stipulations of Article 3, paragraph 3, the whistleblower who reports or publicly discloses an infraction in accordance with the requirements imposed by this law shall not be liable for the violation of any restrictions on the communication or disclosure of information contained in the report or public disclosure.
• A whistleblower who reports or publicly discloses an infraction in accordance with the requirements imposed by this law is not liable for obtaining or having access to the information that motivated the report or public disclosure, except in cases where obtaining or having access to the information constitutes a crime.
• The stipulations of the preceding paragraphs are without prejudice to the possible liability of whistleblowers for acts or omissions that are not related to the report or public disclosure, or that are not necessary for the report or public disclosure of an offense under this law.
2 - HANDLING OF THE COMPLAINT
Once the complaint has been received, it is necessary to proceed to the investigation stage, and there is a procedure in place to follow up on the complaint.
The person in charge of this process analyses the content of the complaint and the documents that accompany it, having the autonomy to request the documents and information from the organisation as she sees fit in order to carry out this analysis fully and completely.
After the analysis, the person in charge must prepare a report describing the actions taken and the conclusions reached, keeping such report exclusively for him/herself and ensuring that no third party has access to it, either in paper format (when printed) or in computerised format.
Thus, the people in charge of managing this procedure, drafting and managing the necessary documents are Bruno Romão and India Sampson, also managing the email dedicated to this subject.
The essential stages of this process are as follows:
Registration: the complainant registers his/her complaint in a form accessible on the company´s website, or alternatively by sending the information to the email email@example.com.
Analysis and processing: The complaints received are entered in a reserved computer folder in the system, as well as in a document folder with reserved access, followed by the respective workflow, analysis and conclusions.
Conclusion and filing: The persons with authority for the purpose make their analysis and document the conclusion of the complaint through an email addressed exclusively to the complainant.
3 - CONCLUSION OF THE PROCEDURE
The complainant is informed at any time during the procedure of the status of the steps taken, and is notified of the decision taken up to a maximum of 90 days after receipt of the complaint at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IV - Costs and Sanctions for non-compliance with the Law:
The fines for non-compliance with the Whistleblower Protection Act are divided into very serious and serious sanctions.
Preventing the submission or follow-up of a complaint constitutes a very serious misdemeanour punishable by a fine of €1,000 to €25,000 if the agent is an individual, or €10,000 to €250,000 if the agent is a company or any other entity.
Not having an external reporting channel, or offering such a channel without the appropriate guarantees, constitutes a serious administrative offence punishable by a fine of between €500 and €12,500 if the perpetrator is an individual, or between €1,000 and €125,000 if the perpetrator is a company or any other entity.
Sampson Property Lda in close connection with its vision and mission, is committed to conducting its business with the principles of:
Integrity and absolute transparency in the conduct of business.
Unity and respect in relations with customers, partners and suppliers.
Efficiency in planning and execution processes.
Initiative and pro-activity in all situations, quality of product/services and commitment to the customer.
Because social and legal dynamics are evolving, this document is the same, and will be amended whenever appropriate. Its first version is formalised on March 14, 2023, and the entire Team will be made aware of it by appropriate means.