The Whistleblower Act provides that public companies and large proprietary companies must have had a compliant whistleblower policy in place no later than 1 January 2020.
KEY TAKE OUTS:
- The Whistleblower Act provides that public companies and large proprietary companies must have a compliant whistleblower policy in place no later than 1 January 2020. So, if you don’t have one, you’re now non-compliant.
- Failure to have a compliant policy in place by this date may result in penalties of up to $12,600 for a company.
On 19 February 2019, Parliament passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblowers Protections) Bill 2018 which introduced a new and far reaching whistleblower protection regime for the private sector.
These new laws providing greater protection for whistleblowers took effect on 1 July 2019.
The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Cth) (“Whistleblower Act”) was introduced to provide for a single whistleblower regime to cover the corporate, financial and credit sectors.
The Whistleblower Act will affect all public and proprietary companies in respect of offences or misconduct in the corporate, financial services, banking, insurance, superannuation and taxation sectors, and strengthens the protections and remedies available to those who blow the whistle on wrongdoing within the private sector.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?
The Whistleblower Act:
(a) allows for the making of protected disclosures about a wider range of misconduct. Previously, only disclosures regarding breaches of the Corporations Act 2001 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 were protected;
(b) provides protection to whistleblowers if the protected disclosure was made to an ‘eligible recipient’, which includes officers, senior managers, the company’s auditors, actuaries or any other person authorised by the company;
(c) provides protection for a wider range of people to make protected disclosures;
(d) allows for anonymous disclosures;
(e) allows for a person making a disclosure to only have objective reasonable grounds to suspect wrongdoing, subsequently removing the requirement for good faith;
(f) allows ’emergency’ or ‘public interest’ disclosures to be made to members of Parliament or the media in certain circumstances; and
(g) expands the protections available to whistleblowers who suffer detriment as a result of making a protected disclosure.
WHAT IS REQUIRED BY EMPLOYERS?
The Whistleblower Act provides that public companies and large proprietary companies must have a compliant whistleblower policy in place no later than 1 January 2020. Failure to have a compliant policy in place by this date may result in penalties of up to $12,600 for a company.
Large proprietary companies are those companies which satisfy at least two of the following:
(a) the consolidated revenue for the financial year of the company and any entities it controls is $25 million or more;
(b) the value of the consolidated gross assets at the end of the financial year of the company and any entities it controls is $12.5 million or more; and
(c) the company and any entities it controls have 50 or more employees at the end of the financial year.
Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers has experience providing advice to clients on governance issues and policy requirements, and the ability to review and prepare internal policies for corporate clients.
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