New whistleblower protection laws came into effect on 1 July 2019 imposing new requirements on large proprietary companies, companies limited by guarantee and other public companies.
The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 also amended the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to create a whistleblower protection regime for disclosure of information regarding breaches of the tax laws.
Impact for companies
The amendments to the Corporations Act 2001 requires affected companies to have a Whistleblower Policy in place by 31 December 2019 and make it available to their officers and employees.
Not complying with the new laws can result in criminal and civil penalties, with the maximum civil penalties for breaching confidentiality of an eligible whistleblower’s identity or causing or threatening detriment of up to $1.05 million for individuals and $10.5 million or 10% of the annual turnover for companies.
Summary of other amendments
Other key amendments to the Enhanced Whistleblower Protections include:
- expanding the definition of an eligible whistleblower;
- expanding the definition of an individual who can receive a whistleblower’s disclosure (protected disclosure);
- broadening the types of wrongdoing that qualify for protection;
- improving a whistleblower’s access to compensation;
- requiring the whistleblower’s identity to remain confidential; and
- protecting whistleblowers from victimisation.
How we can help
Nexia can help your organisation ensure compliance with the Enhanced Whistleblower Protections contained in the Corporations Act by developing or updating your whistleblower policy in accordance with the new legislation and ensuring the compliance of your reporting and complaint handling systems.
We can also provide a safe channel for whistleblowers, reducing the risk that employers are penalised for mishandling reports or whistleblowers simply choose not to come forward.