Recent changes to the Corporations Act 2001(Cth) enhance the protections available to whistleblowers and require some organisations to have a compliant whistleblowing policy in place by 1 January 2020.
The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 amended the Corporations Act 2001(Cth) (“Corporations Act”) to enhance the protections available to eligible whistleblowers and increase the obligations and penalties on employers to properly manage and investigate disclosures. The amendments commenced on 1 July 2019.
The improved protections available to whistleblowers include the option to remain anonymous and protection from reprisals and victimisation because of making a disclosure. Significant penalties apply to employers and individuals who breach these obligations.
The changes expand the persons eligible to make disclosures to include a current or former employee, officer, volunteer, contractor or associate of the employer; or a relative, dependant, or spouse (including a former spouse) of those persons.
Does your organisation have a compliant policy?
The changes also require that ‘large proprietary companies’, public companies and registerable superannuation entities have a compliant policy in place by 1 January 2020. Not having a compliant policy incurs a penalty of $12,600. A large proprietary company is one where any two of the following are satisfied:1
- Consolidated revenue for the financial year of the company (and entities it controls) is $50 million or more.
- Consolidated gross assets at the end of the financial year of the company (and entities it controls) is $25 million or more.
- Number of employees of the company (and entities it controls) is 100 or more.
Employers that do not meet the above criteria to be required to have a policy, may still wish to have one so that there is some framework for when a person makes disclosure that is eligible for protection under the Corporations Act, because the protection will still apply.
Does your organisation require an external provider to receive whistleblowing disclosures?
Employers can designate an external person or agency to receive whistleblowing disclosures under the Corporations Act. Allowing whistleblowers to make disclosures to an external provider may encourage a culture of reporting and enable your organisation to detect and address early any conduct that might pose risk.
EMA Consulting can offer a confidential and anonymous service to employers for whistleblowers to report disclosures to one of our Consultants through a dedicated toll-free 1800 phone line, via email or post. The Consultant will provide an appropriate designated person in your organisation with a copy of the disclosure, for the organisation to investigate and manage.
Require further information/assistance?
If you require further information or advice, or wish to set up an external reporting process via EMA Consulting, please contact one of our Consultants.
1 Corporations Act, s 45A(3); Corporations Regulations 2001 (Cth) reg 1.0.02B.