While businesses do their best to remain compliant with the relevant laws for their industry, it’s common for misconduct to arise in the workplace. When this happens, it can be difficult for employees and other stakeholders to come forward and report this misconduct.
These people are known as whistleblowers.
Bodies such as ASIC highly encourage whistleblowers to come forward so they can bring light to any serious issues or concerns of misconduct in the workplace. So, to incentivise this course of action, it’s essential for companies to have a well-drafted Whistleblower Policy in place.
Whistleblowers are well protected under the law if they choose to report misconduct, so having this drafted as a policy can incentivise staff and anyone else who chooses to report illegal activity.
So, what exactly is a whistleblower and what does a Whistleblower Policy actually do? Read on to find out more.
What Is A Whistleblower?
Like we mentioned above, a whistleblower is someone who comes forward to report any misconduct or illegal activity in the workplace.
As you can imagine, this isn’t an easy task. However, ASIC recognises that it’s important to impose penalties for misconduct when it arises.
So, amendments were made to the Corporations Act 2001 to help protect whistleblowers when they do come forward. This way, they don’t need to stress about being harassed or attacked for reporting misconduct.
What Is A Whistleblower Policy?
A Whistleblower Policy is a document incorporated within the company’s other internal processes, and deals with whistleblowers coming forward with concerns about misconduct.
Generally, it promotes ethical behaviour by encouraging people to raise any suspicions about potential misconduct. More specifically, it should outline ways that a whistleblower is protected by the law.
Who Needs A Whistleblower Policy?
So, do all businesses need to have a Whistleblower Policy?
The answer here is no, but ASIC has listed what types of companies do.
According to the Corporations Act, the following companies are required to have a Whistleblower Policy:
- Public companies
- Large proprietary companies
- Corporate trustees of APRA-regulated superannuation entities
However, even if you’re not required to have a policy, we still encourage you to have a process in place for handling whistleblower complaints. This way, when whistleblowers do come forward, they can rest assured that they are protected and can contribute to a safe and ethical workplace.
If you want to learn more about how whistleblowers are protected under the Act, ASIC has provided an information sheet listing these rights and protections in detail.
They’ve also provided a guide for how they handle whistleblower reports.
What Should A Whistleblower Policy Include?
Generally, a Whistleblower Policy will cover some or all of the following things:
- Protections for whistleblowers (we’ll cover this in more detail below)
- How whistleblowers can disclose misconduct or illegal activity
- How whistleblowers will be supported by the company
- What they can disclose (for example, the type of conduct)
- How the disclosure will be investigated (for example, by ASIC)
How Does A Whistleblower Policy Protect You?
Like we mentioned before, a Whistleblower Policy should list the ways that a whistleblower is protected by the law. So, what kind of protections are we talking about?
The following are just some ways your policy can protect whistleblowers:
- Keeping the whistleblower’s identity confidential
- Prohibiting other people from causing detriment to the whistleblower
- Providing compensation for any damage suffered from their disclosure
In other words, the policy should outline that the Corporations Act, as well as ASIC, can protect whistleblowers in case they are at risk of harassment or other form of harm as a result of their disclosure.
Where Can I Get A Whistleblower Policy?
If your company needs a Whistleblower Policy, Sprintlaw offers a Whistleblower Policy package which includes the following:
- A Whistleblower Policy, drafted in line with your business’ requirements
- Phone consultations with a Sprintlaw lawyer who can advise you on the legal issues that apply to you
- 1 complimentary amendment to the final draft we provide you
When it comes to reporting illegal activity, it can be difficult to come forward and report it to the relevant authority. A Whistleblower Policy can assure your employees and any other relevant stakeholders that the law protects them in this situation.
This way, they can feel more confident to report misconduct when it arises and can create a more ethical workforce. Whether you need a Whistleblower Policy or if you have any questions around Employment Law in Australia generally, you can contact our team of expert lawyers.
If you would like a consultation on your options going forward, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or email@example.com for a free, no-obligations chat.
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