Do you wish to file a complaint of misconduct or do you wish to report a violation under the German Whistleblower Protection Act?
If superiors or colleagues do not act correctly towards you or other people within your professional environment, the MPG as employer can only act to protect its employees if it receives information on alleged misconduct.
In order to be able to properly follow up on information received, the MPG has established a transparent reporting procedure which is taken care of by the Staff Unit Internal Investigations, situated in the Audit Department.
The Internal Investigations Staff Unit also assumes the role of internal Reporting Point for reporting violations under the German Whistleblower Protection Act [only available in German]. There, you can report information about violations that you have learned in connection with your professional activities or in the run-up to your professional activities and that are subject to German legislation in this regard.
Below you will find relevant information about Reporting Points and the MPG´s procedures. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to the Reporting Points using the contact information provided on this page.
What is meant by “misconduct in a professional context” and/or “violations under the Whistleblower Protection Act in a professional context”?
Misconduct is defined as conduct that is contrary to law, contract or regulation and affects the MPG and/or its employees in their professional relationships.
Non-scientific misconduct occurs when the reported situation is completely or predominantly non-scientific in nature.
Note: Information on the MPG's handling of scientific misconduct can be found here.
A violation as defined in the German Whistleblower Protection Act is an act or an omission within the scope of a professional, entrepreneurial or official activity that is unlawful and affects the regulations and areas of law that fall within the material scope of the German Whistleblower Protection Act (§ 2 HinSchG).
Reports of misconduct or violations occurring in the private sphere do not fall within the scope of the Reporting Points.
Whom can you contact if they wish to report suspected misconduct or violations?
If you are a (former) employee or collaborator who would like to report possible misconduct that you yourself have experienced or observed towards third parties, or you would like to report a violation under the German Whistleblower Protection Act, you can contact the Central Reporting Points of the MPG.
As the internal Reporting Point, the Staff Unit Internal Investigations in the Audit Department of the Administrative Headquarters is available to you. The Staff Unit Internal Investigations is also designated as the Internal Reporting Point of the MPG as laid down in the German Whistleblower Protection Act.
After being contacted, the Staff Unit Internal Investigations will provide an initial assessment of whether and how the MPG can further take care of the situation described.
Alternatively, you can contact the law firm Wirsing Hass Dross with a report of misconduct. This law firm has been mandated by the MPG as lawyers of trust to receive complaints, i.e. it accepts reports of misconduct and violations under the German Whistleblower Protection Act free of charge.
Both Reporting Points can be contacted by telephone or e-mail (in English or German). They are also available for personal interviews (also via video call).
The contact information can be found on this page.
Do the MPG’s Reporting Points also provide legal advice to whistleblowers?
The MPG’s Reporting Points are set up to receive complaints concerning the MPG’s employees. They check the general legal relevance of a complaint.
However, their task does not include providing legal advice to employees, especially with regard to decisions made by the employer under labour law. General legal advice to employees (e.g. checking the prospects of success of an action for protection against dismissal) is reserved for representatives of the legal professions or other bodies that are permitted to provide legal advice.
How is the confidentiality of your report protected?
When communicating with the Central Reporting Points, please use one of the communication channels expressly designated by the MPG to ensure that the information sent arrives directly at the Staff Unit Internal Investigations or the Lawyers of Trust.
We attach great importance to the confidential treatment of identity. However, the confidentiality of personal data affected by a report can only be guaranteed if you yourself also keep the report confidential.
Nevertheless, the MPG may be required by law to disclose your identity in certain cases provided for by law (e.g., to authorities such as the public prosecutor's office).
Is there an external Reporting Point for reports under the Whistleblower Protection Act ?
The German Whistleblower Protection Act additionally provides for the possibility of contacting an external Reporting Point if the report is within the scope of the Act.
For this purpose, the Federal Government has established the external Reporting Point of the Federal Government at the Federal Office of Justice (BfJ). Information also on other reporting procedures of institutions, bodies and other entities of the European Union can be found here.
Please note that this is an external information that may only comprise a summary information in the English language.
What information is needed to decide whether a complaint can be investigated?
The central reporting points first examine whether a report is valid. In addition, the central reporting points needs substantiated documentation of the situation (e.g. exact description of the situation, naming of the persons involved, e-mails or letters) in order to assess whether and in which procedure a report can be investigated more closely (so-called follow-up measures).
What happens once a complaint has been filed?
Based on the information you provide regarding the alleged misconduct or violation under the German Whistleblower Protection Act, the Staff Unit will conduct an initial assessment as part of a preliminary procedure.
Within the framework of the preliminary procedure, it may be determined that
- misconduct has not been sufficiently substantiated. The Vice President will then decide not to open an investigation.
- it is a matter that does not refer to a form of non-scientific misconduct, but further processing of your concern can be supported by a specialized Department of the Administrative Headquarters or a Central Officer. In this case, you will receive the necessary contact information of the responsible staff members.
- an investigation of the complaint by the MPG is warranted. The Vice President decides on the further proceedings.
When is a report investigated on a central level, and when is it investigated on a local level at the MPI?
- The Staff Unit Internal Investigations has the additional task to conduct an internal investigation on a central level and in a leading role if the cases are of superior significance. This is the case if the allegation of misconduct is directed against a Scientific Member and/or the report is likely to jeopardize the reputation of the MPG.
- If the supervisory function for the person accused lies with a Max Planck Institute (MPI), the procedural rules foresee that the complaint is dealt with at the MPI in decentralized proceedings. The proceedings initiated by the complaint are continued at the MPI with a request for further clarification of the facts. The MPI then reports to the Management of the MPG on the measures it has taken.
What is the procedure for a central internal investigation?
If – as described above – it is decided during the preliminary procedure that an internal investigation will be opened, a comprehensive clarification of the facts follows, and investigative measures are initiated (e.g., the review of documents, data, and the statements of the parties involved and any respondents).
After the clarification of the facts has been completed, the Staff Unit carries out a legal evaluation of the findings. Together with the Vice President, a recommendation is made to the President (or the Executive Committee) as to whether the reported allegation – in the opinion of the MPG – involves non-scientific misconduct and, if so, what further steps should be taken (e.g. sanctioning of misconduct).
At the end of an internal investigation, the President (or the Executive Committee) decides whether and, if so, what the consequences of the misconduct are.