If you haven’t already, now is a great time to start working on your whistleblower policy and procedures in line with new laws coming into force from August. Read on to find out how to put your program together.

Under changes to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018, public companies and large proprietary entities must have a whistleblower policy in place before August 2019. Failure to comply with whistleblower legislation could result in penalties of up to $200,000 for individuals and $1 million for corporations.

Even if your company doesn’t have a legislated requirement, it is wise to have a whistleblower policy in place as a best practice measure.

Does my company qualify as a large proprietary company?

A large proprietary company is one that has at least two of the following:

  1. Consolidated revenue of at least $25 million
  2. Consolidated gross assets of at least $12.5 million
  3. At least 50 employees within the company and the entities it controls.

What to do next

Step 1. If you think your company qualifies as a large proprietary entity, you should start drawing up a comprehensive whistleblower policy. TIP: It’s important to check that your policy is not in conflict with any other existing policies or practices.

Step 2. Determine how best to make the policy available to officers and employees of the company.

Step 3. Determine how the company will support whistleblowers and protect them from victimisation.

Step 4. Determine how, and to whom, protected disclosures may be made.

Step 5. Provide practical training to the officers, senior managers and others who will receive disclosures so they know how to respond if a protected disclosure is made (failure to comply with the legislation can lead to heavy penalties).

Step 6.  Determine how the company will investigate disclosures.

Step 7. Determine how to ensure fair treatment of employees who are mentioned in disclosures or to whom such disclosures relate.

Step 8. Ensure employees are aware of the whistleblower program and know how to access it.

For more information download a sample whistleblower program checklist