ASIC GUIDANCE ON WHISTLEBLOWER POLICIES

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission has released guidance on writing a whistleblower policy for employees.

 

Public companies, big proprietary companies and proprietary companies that are trustees of registrable superannuation entities were to have a policy available for officers and employees by 1 January.

 

Regulatory guide 270 Whistleblower policies helps these companies establish policies that support and protect whistleblowers.  The guide sets out legally binding components of a policy.

 

They include:

  • Types of matters covered by a policy
  • Who can make and receive a disclosure
  • How to make a disclosure
  • Legal and practical protections for disclosers
  • Investigating a disclosure, and
  • Ensuring fair treatment of individuals mentioned in a disclosure.

 

The guide also helps companies develop and implement policies that are tailored to their operations.

 

'Robust and transparent whistleblower policies are essential to achieving sound risk management and corporate governance,' said Commissioner John Price.

 

'Whistleblower policies will influence behaviour and corporate culture in positive ways – for example, by encouraging greater disclosures of wrongdoing and by deterring people from doing the wrong thing.  They play a crucial role in achieving a more fair and accountable corporate environment.'

 

ASIC does not require public companies that are not-for-profits or charities with annual revenue of less than $1 million to have a whistleblower policy.

 

'We […] understand that these entities may face a compliance burden that outweighs the benefits a policy might otherwise offer,' said Commissioner Price.

 

All companies are bound by whistleblower protections in the Corporations Act from 1 July 2019, regardless of whether they are required to have a whistleblower policy.

 

ASIC plans to survey the policies of a sample of companies next year to review compliance.