ASIC is reminding certain companies they were required to have a whistleblower policy in place and made available to officers and employees by 1 January 2020.
What is a whistleblower?
A whistleblower is an insider within an organisation, who reports misconduct or dishonest or illegal activity which has occurred within the same organisation.
Whistleblowers play an important role in identifying and calling out misconduct and harm to consumers and the community.
What companies must have a whistleblower policy?
The types of companies required to have and make available a compliant whistleblowing policy are:
- Public companies
- Large proprietary companies
- Proprietary companies who are trustees of registrable superannuation entities.
This policy requirement is a key element of the Government’s expansion of whistleblower protections in the Corporations Act, which came into effect in July 2019.
The policies must set out how the company will protect and investigate any concerns, as well as the legal protections available to whistleblowers. The policies may also be used by the courts when deciding on compensation claims.
ASIC commissioner John Price said “Whistleblower policies are an important component of corporate governance and can help promote a more ethical corporate culture. They encourage employees to speak up and alert management to changes necessary to address misconduct and improve their performance.”
Failure to have a policy is considered a criminal offence and carries a maximum penalty of $126,000.
How can we help?
Our team are able to review existing whistleblowing policies for compliance, assist in the drafting of compliant whistleblowing policies and answer any queries you may have regarding the new laws.
Even if your company does not require a formal whistleblower policy, it may benefit from documenting and implementing a strategy for handling any reports you may receive in line with the legislative requirements.
For more information on a policy contact Kate Scarce, Audit Manager on 03 5443 0344.