The following article has kindly been provided by our friends at WattsNext HR.
Whistleblowers play an important role in identifying and calling out misconduct and harm to consumers and the community. To encourage whistleblowers to come forward with their concerns and protect them when they do, the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) gives certain people legal rights and protections as whistleblowers.
From 1 July 2019, the whistleblower protections in the Corporations Act have been expanded to provide greater protections for whistleblowers. This will include requiring public companies, large proprietary companies, and corporate trustees of APRA-regulated superannuation entities to have a whistleblower policy from 1 January 2020.
Who Needs a Whistleblower Policy?
A whistleblower policy will apply to public and ‘large proprietary’ companies. This means your business does at least two of the following:
- The number of employees in your company and any entities it controls at the 2018/2019 EOFY is 100 or more
- The consolidated revenue for the financial year of your company and any entities it controls is $50 million or more
- The value of the consolidated gross assets at the end of the financial year of your company and any entities it controls is $25 million or more
The deadline to implement a whistleblower policy for qualifying companies is 1 January 2020.
What Happens if Your Business Doesn’t Have or Update Their Whistleblower policy?
If your business does not have a whistleblower policy in place by 1 January 2020, you may face fines of up to $126,000. It’s imperative that your business enacts a company whistleblower policy ASAP to avoid penalties.
Most businesses will need to implement company-wide training sessions to ensure those new whistleblower policies are recognised and dealt with confidentiality and correctly by the team.
The Consequences of Whistleblower Policy Breach
There are some other HUGE ramifications for companies who fail to be compliant with the new whistleblower laws.
If an individual breaches the confidentiality of a whistleblower’s identity, they can be fined up to a staggering $1.05 million. Meanwhile, companies could rack up to $10.5 million if they breach confidentiality. These new laws are definitely not something to be taken lightly.
Another thing to note, is that if an individual or business is seen to victimise or threaten a whistleblower, the same fines can apply.
If you’d like to discuss this article or it’s impact on your business, you can reach us on (07) 3023 4800 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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