As of 1 July 2019, Australia will have a new whistleblower protection regime, which will cover the corporate, financial and tax sectors. This regime was introduced by the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Act), which aims to encourage ethical whistleblowing and discourage white-collar crime, while holding employers accountable for protecting eligible whistleblowers.
The Act introduces a new requirement for all public companies and large proprietary companies to have a ‘compliant’ whistleblower policy in place. Companies will have until 1 January 2020 to put in place the policy. Companies who fail to have a compliant policy in place after this time will be exposed to fines up to $12,600 (60 penalty units).
The maximum civil penalties, under the new regime, for breaching confidentiality of an eligible whistleblower’s identity or causing or threatening detriment include:
• for individuals, up to $1.05 million (5,000 penalty units); and
• for companies, $10.5 million (50,000 penalty units), or 10% of the annual turnover (up to $525 million or 5 million penalty units).
Employers should start to respond to the new whistleblower regime now to ensure compliance
* Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 [ Source link here. ]