Proposed Whistle-blower Protection Act in Taiwan

August 1, 2019

As an effort to discourage corruption and ensure sufficient protection in the black-letter law for whistle-blowers, early in May Taiwan’s Executive Yuan has introduced a draft law to protect whistle-blowers in public and private sectors, pending ratification by the country’s legislature.  The Premier indicated that this is a big step to towards better and more competent government and to meet the expectations of many in our society.  This proposed enactment will also bridge the gap where the internal reporting channel of the civil servants, while supposed to work effectively, failed.  The deputy minister of the Justice Department noted that pursuant to the Criminal Procedures Act, a civil servant does have an obligation to make a report but when the system fails, the whistleblowing can come from other avenues such as mass media or aldermen or other representatives of the people to bring it to light the malfeasance.

The important features of the proposed legislation include the following:-

  • more and thorough protection to the whistle-blowers while stiffer punishment to those who seek to retaliate against the whistle-blowers;
  • the scope of malfeasance subject to whistle-blowing:- in public sectors there are acts of civil servants that are corrupt, and endangering public health, safety and other public interests; in private sectors these are items of public interests such as labor, finance, environment, social welfare, food hygiene, education, land conservation, etc.
  • not just employees would be qualified as whistle-blowers and be protected under the proposed Act but also contractors and agents may also be protected as whistle-blowers. In addition, those people who serve as witnesses, cooperate with investigations or refused to participate in the malfeasance may be considered quasi whistle-blowers and be protected for their right to employment.
  • In addition to the first tier of reporting (which is the internal reporting to supervisor, department head, ethics department, justice department, other competent authorities), external bodies such as legislatures and mass media to work as the second tier.
  • Protection of employment from bullying:- concrete measures include reinstatement of employment, backpay and compensatory damages and measures taken to counter intentional bullying or boycotting a whistle-blower in the work environtment and offer remedies of punitive damages for compensation of mental suffering as a result.
  • Introduction of amicus curiae to the legal proceedings to aid the whistle-blower.  Amicus curiae may offer opinions on issues relating to facts and/or the law and these may include public interest groups, bar associations, professional associations, commerce associations, competent authorities or office of the prosecutors.