Whistleblower protections have been top of mind for many Australian organisations recently, following a number of changes to the law.
The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistle-Blower Protections) Bill 2017 is due to come into effect from July 2019.
This will result in significant changes to the way whistleblowers are to be treated under a raft of existing legislation, including the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), the Banking Act 1959 (Cth) and the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth).
One of the key changes is the need for organisations to have policies in place around whistleblower procedures and protections.
So what are some of the key changes to the law, and what should your whistleblower policy include?
A number of changes will take effect under the new legislation, including:
The intention of the legislation is to protect people who:
In the event that a staff member wishes to make a disclosure, it is essential that it is only made to the appropriate category of person. Internally, this includes officers of the company, a person authorised by the company to receive 'protected disclosures' (such as an HR representative) or a senior manager of the whistleblower, who is an employee of the company. Companies can facilitate disclosure by implementing a mechanism for staff members to report online or over the phone.
External disclosures can be made to ASIC/APRA, auditors or actuaries reviewing the company, lawyers or journalists or parliamentarians where public interest would be met by making the disclosure.
Whistleblowers are entitled to retain anonymity. However, the information does not need to remain confidential, as long as it can be demonstrated that:
The new legislation sets out a number of strengthened protections for whistleblowers.
Organisations who are required to have a whistleblower policy must ensure that it covers off key points, including:
The policy should be communicated to all staff, from the CEO down. It should be made available where all staff members can easily access it, for example posted on an intranet.
It is clear that the content and nature of a whistleblower policy are key to appropriately implementing the legislation. To assist our clients in understanding the looming changes and preparing, we have published a white paper, which is available on our website for free download.
We also provide our industry-leading Grapevine Confidential Whistleblower Hotline, which is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Grapevine provides employees with the opportunity to make anonymous complaints to trusted and experienced operators.
WISE Workplace is a multidisciplinary organisation specialising in the management of workplace behaviour. We investigate matters of corporate and professional misconduct, resolve conflict through mediation and minimise the impact of inappropriate behaviour through our whistleblower services.
Add a Comment