Whistleblower – You need to act

Who should read this 

All large private and public companies covered under the Corporations Act 2001.
Importantly in mid-November 2018, the Government proposed to amend the current financial thresholds, specifically what is defined as ‘large’ given they have not been reviewed since 2007.  
A Private company is defined as large for a financial year if it satisfies at least two of the following requirements – note that the draft increased thresholds are highlighted as a comparison:
  • $25 million or more in consolidate revenue (draft: $50 million)
  • $12.5 million or more in consolidated gross assets (draft: $25 million)
  • 50 or more employees (draft: 100 employees) 

If approved, the increased thresholds would mean the number of private companies required to adopt the whistleblower policy would reduce. 

A Public Company is defined as 

  • whether a public company limited by shares or by guarantee
  • an unlimited public company with a share capital or no liability companies (mining and resource type companies).
What you need to know
Following a joint parliamentary report, draft legislation the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistle-blower Protections) Bill 2017 was introduced into the Australian Senate in December 2017 and passed on 7 December 2018.

With the bill now proceeding to the House, the likely effective date for being passed into law is early 2019 allowing for a six month timeframe for affected companies to become compliant. Failure to comply will be an offence, subject to a maximum penalty of $200,000 for individuals and $1million for corporations.
The proposed changes are designed to strengthen legislative protection measures for prospective whistleblowers and ensure compliance by affected companies in improving their whistleblower programs.

What you need to do
If you are a large proprietary or public company covered under the Corporations Act 2001, then you must implement the required internal whistleblower policies and programs under the new legislation, or risk facing penalties.
Additionally, the whistleblower protection policy must ensure that whistleblowers who make eligible disclosures are protected from retaliation and victimisation. It will not be enough to simply pull together a whistleblower policy and circulate it within the organisation.
The clear intent of the legislative change is for companies to adopt and embed compliant processes to ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of whistleblowers, and enable related reporting for quick and effective resolution.
To ensure you are ‘ahead of the curve’ now is the time to start reviewing or developing your whistleblower policies and procedures. Prosperity can help with our customised Whistleblower service.
To learn more about this impending legislative compliance obligation or to confirm if your company will be affected, contact Michael Mahabeer who leads our Ethics and Whistleblower practice on 

+61 7 3839 1755 or your principal adviser.


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