Australia’s national corporate whistleblower protections are changing with the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 receiving bipartisan support.

Whistleblowers will have greater protection against harassment and victimisation as a result of making a legitimate disclosure under the more robust whistleblower protection regime. The bill requires organisations to review their current whistleblowing policy or prepare one if they don’t have one in place and ensure that training has been provided for managers before the law comes into force on 1 July 2019.

What’s happened?

The House has passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblowers Protections) Bill 2017 (Bill). The Bill extends the corporate whistleblower regime in the Corporations Act and creates a whistleblower regime in the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TAA) for disclosures of information by individuals regarding tax law breaches or misconduct relating to an organisation’s affairs.

Why is this important?

In the past legislations were inadequate, as Whistleblowers were discouraged from making disclosures due to the fear of personal and/or professional reprisal.

Amongst other things, the reforms standardise the protections available across sectors so as to encourage whistleblowers to more readily disclose information relating to actual or suspected non-compliance or misconduct with regards to corporate and taxation laws. The Bills intention is to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers and to provide remedies such as compensation should a whistleblower suffer detriment as a result of making a disclosure or if their identity is revealed. In addition to that whistleblowers cannot be subject to legal liability for making a disclosure (although, may be subject to civil, criminal or administrative liability for any personal misconduct revealed by the disclosure or investigation).

Whilst directly regulating only listed and large private companies, smaller and government organisations will also need to be mindful of the benchmarks these new Whistleblower Legislation requirements will set.

How long do I have to comply?

The new reforms will commence on the first day of the second quarter following royal assent – so if royal assent is received by 1 April 2019, the new regime will commence on 1 July 2019.

What do I need to do?

From 6 months after the commencement of the new regime, public companies and large proprietary companies must have a whistleblower policy which meets the requirements and is made available to officers and employees of the company.

Download Your Call’s Legislation Pack to learn everything you need to know about the changes.

For information on developing a best practice Whistleblower Program download our Program Checklist

Along with its leading independent Speak Up reporting services, Your Call provides Whistleblower Policy and Program advisory to enable organisations to comply with Australia’s Whistleblowing Legislation.