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SIOD, competent authority for reports in the fight against social fraud

In accordance with article 1 of the Royal Decree of 22 January 2023, published in the Belgian Official Gazette, appointing the competent authorities for the implementation of the law of 28 November 2022 (in Dutch) New window, SIOD is recognised as the competent authority for reports concerning the fight against social fraud.

Background of this recognition

Protecting whistleblowers is essential for a state that aims for public services to act with integrity. Potential whistleblowers must be assured that they will not be harmed themselves after reporting fraud or abuse.

The Network of European Integrity and Whistleblowing Authorities (NEIWA) has been advocating better protection for whistleblowers for years. In 2019, the European regulator decided that European Member States should introduce legislation for enhanced protection of whistleblowers, with a focus as well on accessible and low-threshold reporting channels.

Belgian legislation

The EU Whistleblowing Directive of 23 October 2019 as published in the EU Official Journal New window underlines the importance of accessible and easy-to-use reporting channels. By the end of 2022, Belgium transposed the directive into national law:

What information must be reported through the Point of Contact for Fair Competition?

  • The Point of Contact for Fair Competition only takes into account reports of possible breaches against social law monitored by the federal and regional social inspection services. The Point of Contact therefore does not serve to report breaches of legislation for which the social inspection services are not competent. Specifically, it concerns reports on the following topics:
    • unfair competition/social dumping
    • problems about salaries, working hours and annual leave
    • undeclared work
    • benefits fraud over undeclared cohabitation/relocation
    • welfare at work (dangerous or unsanitary working conditions)
    • economic exploitation/human trafficking
  • The reports should allow the Point of Contact and social inspection services to investigate the reported facts. The information must be transparent, comprehensible and reliable. To this end, the reporter must describe the facts accurately and in sufficient detail by answering questions asked in various forms. The reporter can also attach pieces of evidence and other documents.
  • Point of Contact social inspectors and/or social inspection services can contact the reporter for more details about the information and documents provided, or for additional information. This is only possible for those who, at the time of reporting, have not stated that they do not want to be contacted.

Who can file a report?

Under the Whistleblower Act, any employee in the private sector can file a report about possible violations in a professional context. They can be:

  • employees, including civil servants;
  • self-employed persons;
  • shareholders, members of the administrative, management or supervisory body of a company, including non-executive members;
  • volunteers and trainees, whether paid or unpaid;
  • contractors, subcontractors and suppliers;
  • former employees;
  • prospective employees (with regard to information obtained during the recruitment procedure or other pre-contractual negotiations).

Reports are made via the Point of Contact website directly to the competent authority or via the contact page of the federal Ombudsman website New window.

Are anonymous reports allowed?

The Whistleblower Act allows anonymous reports. These are reports where no one, not even the recipient of the report, knows the identity of the reporter.

By nature, an anonymous report means that the reporter cannot be protected. Nor can they be kept informed of the outcome of the report.

Your identity as a whistleblower is protected

According to article 59 of the Social Penal Code, social inspectors may not disclose your identity to anyone, not even in court, unless you explicitly agree. Nor can they inform an employer or his representative that an investigation has been launched on the basis of your report.

To enjoy legal protection, you must meet the following conditions as a whistleblower:

  • have acted in good faith;
  • have reasonable grounds to believe that the reported information was true at the time of the report;
  • have followed the reporting procedure required by law.

The whistleblower is not protected if the report proceeds on false information or on information obtained as a result of a crime.

Do you receive feedback about your report?

If the facts determined do not affect your personal interest, you will not be informed about the results of the investigation, for example in the case of reports about undeclared work in a company. This is because social inspectors are bound by the duty of professional secrecy and secrecy of investigation.

However, if you have direct, personal interests and are harmed by the reported facts, the competent inspection service will inform you of the outcome of the investigation. For example, if you did not receive a C4 document or social documents, you received insufficient wages or holiday pay, the inspectorate will inform you, for example, that your overdue wages have been rectified through the intervention of a social inspector.

Course of a report to the Point of Contact

The Point of Contact for Fair Competition treats every report it receives. This treatment consists of the stages mentioned below. There is a distinction between a direct notification and a report of a violation filed through the federal Ombudsman.

The course of a direct notification:

  1. Receipt of the report is made securely through the social security portal.
  2. An acknowledgement of receipt, including a copy of the submitted report, is automatically sent to the reporter's e-mail address.
  3. The social inspectors of the Point of Contact analyse the report. If the report is admissible, it is enriched using databases and forwarded to the competent inspection services for further follow-up.
  4. If the notification falls under the competence of the federal and regional social inspection services, it is forwarded to them for follow-up.
  5. If the report does not fall under the competence of the federal and regional social inspection services and is in a professional context, the federal coordinator is informed. Coordination is set up with them.
  6. If the reporter has direct and personal interests and has suffered damage as a result of the reported facts, the competent inspection service informs them of the results of the investigation. In all other cases, the reporter receives no feedback.

Course upon receipt of a report through the federal Ombudsman:

  1. The receipt of the report through the Federal Ombudsman is secure.
  2. The federal Ombudsman receives an acknowledgement of receipt.
  3. The report is processed.
  4. If the reporter has direct and personal interests and has suffered damage as a result of the reported facts, the competent inspectorate informs them of the results of the investigation. In all other cases, the reporter does not receive any feedback.
  5. Federal Ombudsman

    The federal Ombudsman has been appointed by the federal parliament as the federal coordinator for external reports. This position is intended to simplify the whistleblower reporting procedure.

    The same federal coordinator ensures the protection of the persons concerned.

    Any whistleblower who feels victimised or threatened with reprisals can submit a reasoned complaint to the federal coordinator. They will initiate an extrajudicial protection procedure.

    See more information on Protection against retaliation on the federal Ombudsman website New window.

    Consult more information on its role on the federal Ombudsman website New window.

    Contact details for federal Ombudsman:

    Federal Ombudsman – Integrity Centre
    Rue de Louvain 48, bte 6
    1000 Brussels
    Consult the contact page on the Federal Ombudsman website New window.

    Federal Institute for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (FIRM/IFDH

    The FIRM/IFDH has four tasks following the new whistleblowing regulation:

    • to be the central point for those seeking information about the whistleblowing procedure;
    • provide support to whistleblowers who need it;
    • prepare a biennial report on the protection of whistleblowers in Belgium;
    • promote the protection of whistleblowers' rights in Belgium and contribute to a culture that promotes whistleblowing.

    FIRM/IFDH contact details

    Federal Institute for Human Rights
    Leuvenseweg 48
    1000 Brussels
    E-mail for whistleblowers: kl-la@firm-ifdh.be
    Telephone number for whistleblowers: 0479/88.57.40

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