Australian businesses are being urged to prepare for a large change to employment law beginning on 1 July 2019, set to provide greater protections to whistleblowers who report large proprietary companies.
To comply with the new laws, companies will need to introduce a new whistleblower policy within their organisation.
Employsure’s senior employment relations advisor, Messina Angelis, believes the new regulations strike a good balance for employees and employers.
“The improved protections will allow employees to speak out about corporate abuses without fear of repercussion. The legislation is a positive first step that aims to balance the interests of the employees against those of business without imposing too great a compliance burden,” Ms Angelis said.
Does your business require a whistleblower policy?
The act provides that all public companies and large proprietary companies are to introduce a whistleblower policy within their organisations.
A large proprietary company is one that has at least two of the following criteria:
- consolidated revenue in excess of $50 million;
- consolidated gross assets of more than $25 million; or
- at least 100 employees within the company and the entities it controls.
The new act applies when a person discloses information about wrongdoing by an applicable entity. If the whistleblower meets the criteria set out by this new law, they are protected from civil, criminal or administrative liability.
How can businesses protect themselves?
According to Employsure, businesses should prevent rather than cure. Fair, reasonable and safe practices should avoid potential issues in the future.
“In our experience, most businesses try to do the right thing. This legislation will promote a level playing field and prevent those who are engaged in less scrupulous practices from hiding their actions through the intentional silencing of ‘whistleblowers’,” Ms Angelis said.
Deadlines and penalties
The amendment will come into effect from 1 July 2019 and will apply to disclosures made on or after the commencement date. The amendment will also contain significant civil and criminal penalties for breaches to the new law.
Insolvency accountant asks: Have you paid your tax yet?
By John Papadopoulos
Ask the Experts: Does automation stack up financially?
By Christopher Overton
Opinion: How bad do things have to get?!
By Adam Zuchetti