Starting on 1 January 2020, public companies, large proprietary companies and trustees of registrable superannuation entities will be required to have a whistle-blower policy in place. This is part of a move to ensure greater protections for whistle-blowers under the Corporations Act 2001.
Money laundering, fraud, financial irregularities, criminal damage against property – these are just some of the types of misconduct that can take place in a corporate environment. Whistle-blowers play an important role in uncovering and reporting these activities, but individuals are often unwilling to speak out for personal and financial reasons.
A whistle-blower policy provides a clear framework for all employees in an organisation. It should aim to promote whistle-blowing best practice in the workplace and encourage disclosure, contributing to a more ethical corporate culture. Amongst others, the policy must:
- Identify people, within the company and externally, who can receive whistle-blower reports
- Advise whistle-blowers how to make a disclosure
- Include details on how your company will investigate whistle-blower reports
- Provide information on legal protections available to whistle-blowers
- Outline how your company will support and protect whistle-blowers
To find out more, take a look at this useful Regulatory Guide released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). It provides information on designing a whistle-blower policy that complies with the legal obligations, as well as tips for implementing and maintaining this policy in the workplace.