ASIC has welcomed the passing of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018, approved by Parliament late on 19 February 2019. The reforms significantly improve the protections available for whistleblowers who report company misconduct.
- broaden the whistleblower definition to include both current and former employees, officers, and contractors, as well as their spouses and dependants, and anonymous disclosures;
- extend the protections to whistleblower reports that allege misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances about any matter covered by financial sector law, as well as all Commonwealth offences punishable by imprisonment of 12 months or more;
- create civil penalty provisions, in addition to the existing criminal offences, for causing detriment to (or victimising) a whistleblower and for breaches of confidentiality;
- provide protections for disclosures to journalists and parliamentarians in certain circumstances;
- provide whistleblowers with easier access to compensation and other remedies if they suffer loss; and
- require all public companies, large proprietary companies, and corporate trustees of registrable superannuation entities to have a whistleblower policy.
‘These reforms will help ASIC to perform our important regulatory role by encouraging people who have observed misconduct to come forward. They complement the measures we have put in place since 2014 to improve our processes for assessing whistleblower reports and communicating with whistleblowers during our inquiries,’ said ASIC Executive Director Warren Day.
ASIC’s Office of the Whistleblower will oversee the implementation of the reforms when they commence from 1 July 2019.
For further information on ASIC’s approach to whistleblowers under the current regime, see information sheet 52: Guidance for whistleblowers.