Time is running out until whistleblower policies in Australia are mandatory
If you are large proprietary limited or public company you must have a compliant whistleblower policy by 1 January 2020.
To ensure your organisation is compliant, access ASIC’s final guidance notes here.
Redesigning policy and process for enhanced transparency and compliance with new laws
Whistleblowing is often seen as a risk for boards, committees, directors and the organisation's reputation. But with a sound whistleblowing infrastructure in place, whistleblowing brings an opportunity to better understand and manage culture, allowing companies to solve irregularities internally, before they become uncontrollable externally.
With Australian Whistleblowing Laws changing from 1 July 2019, we have designed high-value packages to assist companies in updating their existing policy, or in implementing a compliant policy and whistleblowing process.
To know more about our packages, inclusions, service and technology, download a copy of our brochure or contact a member of our team listed below.
What is happening?
From 1 July 2019 all Australian companies and their employees are exposed to potential civil and criminal liability under new enhanced Whistleblowing laws.
While public and large proprietary companies must have a policy in place by 1 January 2020, the new Whistleblowing laws apply from 1 July 2019 and courts are specifically permitted to take into account the existence of, and implementation of any Whistleblowing policy when making an order under the new legislation.
It is our view that the failure to have a compliant Whistleblowing policy, and to effectively implement that policy by 1 July 2019, will expose our clients to unnecessary risk.
Does it apply to me?
If your business operates in Australia, almost certainly. The new laws apply to all Regulated Entities. Regulated Entities include corporations, banks, insurers and superannuation providers.
What is my exposure?
Failure to protect Whistleblowers as required, by both having a compliant whistleblowing policy and successfully implementing that policy, will have serious legal consequences. Successful implementation of up to date policies will reduce the risk of civil and criminal liability.
Unauthorised naming and victimisation of Whistleblowers and the failure to have policies in place (if required) will carry civil and criminal liability, with terms of imprisonment of up to two years, and civil penalties for individuals (up to $1.05mn) and corporations (up to $525mn).
Why is it important?
Expectations of corporate Australia are changing, with a greater focus on honesty, integrity and fairness, and a decreasing focus on mere legal compliance (which is now regarded as a minimum requirement). Personal accountability is also on the rise, with individuals being held publicly and criminally responsible for corporate failings. Failure to achieve successful implementation now has serious legal consequences.
An effective Whistleblowing program is not only an essential tool for the protection of Whistleblowers, it can also assist corporations in meeting these enhanced expectations by providing essential management information which in turn facilitates a better understanding of business issues. An effective Whistleblowing program informs, empowers and protects those who bear responsibility for governance and compliance.
Whistleblowing policies will be mandatory for public and large proprietary companies on 1 January 2020. While we had recommended that it was prudent to have a compliant policy in place and effectively implemented BEFORE 1 July 2019, there is still time to get prepared. An effectively implemented, compliant policy will help you to:
Reduce the risk of civil and criminal liability
Inform, empower and protect senior management
Obtain advice while retaining legal privilege