New whistleblower protections go live
ASIC provides guidance for companies to help develop their required whistleblower policy by 2020
From 1 July 2019, the new whistleblower provisions added to the Corporations Act 2001 came into effect, which the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) believes will encourage more whistleblowers to come forward to expose corporate misconduct.
Under the new provisions, whistleblowers who report misconduct about companies can now access stronger rights and protections, including requirements to maintain their confidentiality, and prevent them from suffering or threats of reprisals.
The changes to the whistleblower protections will also require public companies, large proprietary companies, and corporate trustees of registrable superannuation entities, to have a whistleblower policy from 1 January 2020.
“ASIC considers a strong and effective arrangement for handling reports from whistleblowers is a key component of corporate governance. We encourage companies to implement a strategy for dealing with whistleblower reports they may receive in line with the legislative requirements,” said ASIC Commissioner John Price.
The protections will apply to whistleblower reports covering misconduct or an ‘improper state of affairs or circumstances’, not just breaches of the law.
It now covers both current and former company employees, officers, and contractors, as well as their spouses and dependants, even when these people wish to remain anonymous. Additionally, whistleblowers can also now seek compensation if they suffer loss, damage, or injury for making their disclosure.
ASIC has said it will provide guidance on the requirement for a whistleblower policy in due course. It has also updated information on its website and issued two new information sheets:
- Information Sheet 238 Whistleblower rights and protections
- Information Sheet 239 How ASIC handles whistleblower reports
Whistleblowers can lodge a report with ASIC through its online misconduct reporting form.