With this guideline, we would like to create trust and encourage employees, company management, business partners, customers, suppliers, etc. of Sympatec GmbH to cooperate. This guideline regulates the establishment and use of a whistleblower system. It shows in which cases and in which way possible grievances must be reported. The guideline also clarifies how to deal with such reports. It should be noted at this point that whistleblowers do not have to fear that they will be sanctioned for reporting in good faith. In addition, whistleblowers are guaranteed maximum confidentiality.
Where stricter regulations, statutory provisions etc. apply to individual functional areas, these stricter regulations take precedence over the provisions of this policy. This guideline supplements and specifies our Code of Conduct and how we deal with whistleblowers.
a. Persons authorised to provide information
All current employees and managers of Sympatec GmbH as well as third parties are authorised to provide information.
b. Potentially affected persons
All employees, managers, etc. who are suspected of being involved in a reportable incident can be reported. The same applies if a third party carries out an action that is directed against one or more companies.
c. Subject of the report
The reporting of misconduct must generally be limited to conduct that is against the interests of the company and constitutes a criminal offence or a serious offence. This applies in particular to violations of the Code of Conduct or offences such as corruption, fraud, prohibited insider trading and conduct that violates human rights.
d. Duty to report
There is always a duty to report if an employee has reason to believe that a certain offence has been committed:
● constitutes a criminal offence or
● may lead to serious damage to the company or third parties; and
● is attributable to a company of Sympatec GmbH.
The duty to report does not apply if the facts of the case are already known to the authorised decision-makers in the company by the reporting employee or if a right to refuse to testify would exist under the Code of Criminal Procedure (e.g. if the employee were to accuse themselves or a spouse).
All authorised reporters are encouraged to report known reports of misconduct, hazards, etc. openly and directly in accordance with this policy. It is recommended that contact details be included with the report. However, if it appears unreasonable for the whistleblower to submit a report attributable to him/her, it is also possible to provide anonymous information.
Prerequisite for the notification
a. "Good faith"
Reports should only be submitted if the whistleblower is in good faith that the facts reported are accurate and true. He is not in good faith if he is aware that a reported fact is untrue. In the event of doubt, the relevant facts are not to be presented as fact, but as a presumption, judgement or statement by other persons. Any doubts must be pointed out in the case of a reference. Nevertheless, it is preferable to report suspected cases in good faith instead of concealing them.
b. Reasonable suspicion
The whistleblower should only report cases in which he or she has a reasonable suspicion that a process relevant to this Directive has occurred. It will not always be clear to the whistleblower whether a particular act or behaviour needs to be reported in accordance with the principles of this Directive. The whistleblower should check this carefully before reporting. In case of doubt, however, the employee must report a suspected case in good faith instead of concealing it.
c. Concrete and conclusive
Every report should be as specific as possible. The whistleblower should provide the recipient with as much detailed information as possible about the matter to be reported so that the recipient can assess the matter correctly.
d. A report must contain at least the following information
● Reason for the report;
● Background and course of events;
● Names of the persons involved;
● Place and date of the offence;
● if available: Documents, evidence.
e. Personal experiences, possible prejudices or subjective opinions must be labelled as such.
f. The whistleblower is generally not obliged to conduct their own investigations. Exceptions through provisions in the employment contract are possible.
Rules of procedure
Whistleblowers have various options at their disposal to report a tip effectively and reliably. In particular, the report can be communicated internally in the respective company (see point a.) or made via the "whistleblower hotline" of a third-party company (see point d.). The involvement of other external third parties, such as the police, should only take place in exceptional cases and after consultation with the contact person already contacted.
The reporting procedure described below should be utilised appropriately in accordance with its gradations, taking into account the interests of the persons involved and the company as well as their own interests.
The first point of contact should always be the line manager or the person directly responsible for the matter. This is usually the easiest way to address a problem in the working environment, clear up misunderstandings and ensure a good and open working atmosphere. If the matter is justified, the contact person will initiate further steps.
If, for factual or personal reasons, it appears necessary to report the matter directly to the management, the whistleblower may also contact the management directly. This applies in particular if, in the employee's opinion, the report could not be properly followed up by the line manager, the person responsible for the matter or the contact person in the relevant department. Direct communication with the management is particularly necessary if it is to be feared that the line manager, the person responsible for the matter or the contact person in the relevant department is involved in the matter or if the whistleblower fears serious personal disadvantages.
(c) Whistleblower system officer
If, for factual or personal reasons, it appears unreasonable or inappropriate to report the matter to a superior or the management, the whistleblower may also contact the Whistleblower system officer of Sympatec GmbH directly by email, telephone or inhouse letterbox.
Contact Person: Whistleblower system officer
Telephone: +49 (0) 5323 717 555
Address: Sympatec GmbH
Whistleblower system officer
Am Pulverhaus 1
You can also use the Reporting Office for Justice and other external reporting centres to submit reports.
Every report is treated confidentially and in compliance with the applicable data protection laws. Upon receipt of a report, the office receiving the report will carry out an initial review of the information, in particular whether there is evidence to corroborate or refute the information provided. If the receiving office is of the opinion that further investigations should be carried out, it documents this and forwards the information to the office responsible within the company. The latter then carries out the internal investigation.
Documentation of the report
The information obtained is documented, whereby only the necessary data is collected and processed. If necessary, on the basis of the results obtained, the other responsible departments, the authorised persons and, if applicable, the authorities are involved and the relevant data is forwarded to them.
Carrying out an investigation
The investigation will be carried out as quickly as reasonably possible. Upon request and as far as possible, the whistleblower will be informed of the progress of the investigation by the body responsible for the investigation. If a report turns out to be false or cannot be sufficiently substantiated with facts, this will be documented accordingly and the procedure will be discontinued immediately. There are no consequences for the employee concerned; in particular, the process is not documented in the personnel file. The results and suggestions of each investigation should be used to avert possible misconduct and prevent it in the future.
Every employee is encouraged to report grievances, misconduct, etc. The whistleblower must ensure that they present the facts objectively, accurately and completely. Personal experiences, possible prejudices or subjective opinions must be identified as such. A report must be made in good faith. If the review of the report reveals that there is no reasonable suspicion or that the facts are not sufficient to substantiate a suspicion, whistleblowers who report a report in good faith will not be subject to disciplinary action.
Whistleblowers who deliberately misuse the whistleblowing system to make false reports must expect disciplinary action. Impairment of the whistleblowing system (e.g. through manipulation, cover-up or collusion) may also result in disciplinary action. Measures that may be taken include warnings or dismissals. In addition, misuse of the whistleblower system can also result in civil or criminal law consequences.