ASIC is calling for public input on its proposed guidance on the new legal obligation on companies to implement a whistleblower policy.
Public companies, large proprietary companies and corporate trustees of registrable superannuation entities must implement a whistleblower policy and make it available to their officers and employees by 1 January 2020. This requirement was introduced as part of the reforms to the corporate sector whistleblower regime that commenced on 1 July 2019.
Proposed Regulatory Guide Whistleblower policies explains how companies can establish, implement and maintain a policy. It covers the information that companies must include in their whistleblowers policy, including how they will support and protect whistleblowers and handle and investigate whistleblower disclosures.
Whistleblower policies help:
- ensure whistleblowers are protected
- encourage whistleblowers to come forward
- reveal and address misconduct occurring within companies
- deter wrongdoing within companies, by increasing the likelihood that wrongdoing will be reported
- improve compliance with the law
- foster a more ethical culture.
‘Companies need to have a robust and clear whistleblower policy to effectively deal with whistleblower disclosures,’ said Commissioner John Price.
‘Transparent whistleblower policies are essential to good risk management and corporate governance. They help uncover wrongdoing that may not otherwise be detected.’
‘Implemented appropriately, whistleblower policies will help companies to comply with their legal obligations to protect whistleblowers from being identified and to protect whistleblowers from detriment.’
‘Whistleblower policies help ensure those who put their personal and financial lives at risk to report wrongdoing can access their rights and protections under the law.’
ASIC also seeks feedback about exempting public companies that are small not-for-profits or charities from the requirement to have a whistleblower policy. We are seeking views on whether this would minimise the risk of a disproportionate regulatory burden on these small not-for-profits and charities.
ASIC welcomes industry views on the proposed guidance on whistleblower policies. The consultation is open for six weeks, with comments due by 18 September 2019.
On 1 July 2019, the reforms to the corporate sector whistleblower protections commenced, providing stronger rights and protections to whistleblowers.
To provide guidance to whistleblowers on their rights and protections and how ASIC handles their reports, ASIC has updated information on our website and issued two new information sheets:
- Information Sheet 238 Whistleblower rights and protections (INFO 238)
- Information Sheet 239 How ASIC handles whistleblower reports (INFO 239).
© Australian Securities & Investments Commission. Reproduced with permission.