Are you ready for the new whistleblower protection laws?

Effective 1 July 2019, whistleblowers will have greater protection against harassment and victimisation, with more organisations, across all sectors, captured under the regime.

Whilst the new regime has an in-force date of 1 January 2020, it is important to note that other provisions relating to the protection of whistleblowers commences immediately. What this means is that your organisation is at risk of exposure until such time that a revised or new whistleblower policy is in place.

We therefore recommend that organisations commence development or review of their policy and supporting processes as soon as possible.

The following information seeks to provide you with further clarity on the new whistleblower protection laws, what organisations need to consider and how we can help you comply with the new regime.

Expanded protections

The Whistleblower Act expands the existing whistleblower framework by:

  • extending the group of people who can make disclosures and be eligible for protection
  • broadening the types of wrongdoing that can be the subject of a disclosure
  • expanding who can receive a whistleblower’s disclosure
  • allowing anonymous disclosures
  • strengthening immunities for whistleblowers
  • extending non-compliance or misconduct to include both corporate and taxation laws

Impacted organisations

Now impacting all sectors (including corporate, financial and credit sectors), organisations that fit the following profiles will be required to implement a whistleblowing policy in order to comply with the new legislation:
1. Public companies (including companies limited by guarantee)
2. Proprietary companies that are the trustee of a registerable superannuation entity
3. Large proprietary companies

Action required

New or existing organisations, previously impacted by the regime, will need to have a compliant whistleblower policy and framework in place before 1 January 2020. In addition, ASIC has released draft guidance on the new whistleblower obligations to implement a whistleblower policy. The proposed ASIC Regulatory Guide 000 Whistleblower policies published on 7 August 2019, explains how companies can establish, implement and maintain a whistleblower policy (proposed ASIC Guidance). Submissions on the proposed ASIC guidance are due on 18 September 2019.

Therefore:

  • if your organisation currently has a whistleblower policy and framework in place, it will need to be reviewed and may need to be amended to ensure it is compliant with the new regime.
  • if your organisation is subject to the legislation for the first time, you will need to develop and adopt a compliant whistleblower policy and framework.

Impacted organisations will also need to ensure that appropriate training has been provided to employees, managers and key personal involved in implementing the whistleblower policy.

Ash St. Can Help You

Our highly experienced Governance, Compliance and Regulation Team have developed comprehensive but practical tools to assist you in implementing a new whistleblower policy and framework or enhancing existing frameworks within your organisation.

Have a read of our Whistleblower Essentials Packages and then reach out to Catherine Tomic on +61 414 088 165 to get started!

We also have training solutions available for:

  • employees – refer to our Strategic Partners and leaders in Governance, Risk and Compliance, GRC Solutions for more information; and
  • management, key persons involved in managing and implementing the whistleblower policy – speak to Catherine Tomic on +61 414 088 165.