Before breaking for the holiday period, get your whistleblowing policy squared away with the 1 January 2020 deadline looming. If not, a New Years' hangover won't be the only thing you regret.

For those that may not have heard, there were big changes to Australia's whistleblowing laws earlier this year. The changes significantly broadened Australia's whistleblowing scheme from 1 July 2019 by expanding:

  • the range of corporate misconduct that can be the subject of a whistleblowing disclosure; and
  • the category of people who are eligible to make, and eligible to receive, a whistleblowing disclosure.

Another key change is the requirement for large or public companies to have a compliant whistleblowing policy in place, which must cover:

  • whistleblowing protections;
  • how someone can make a whistleblowing disclosure;
  • the steps the company will take to support the whistleblower and treat those named in the disclosure fairly; and
  • how the company will investigate and deal with the whistleblowing disclosure.

Companies were given a six-month window to get their house in order. However, that time is nearly here and by 1 January 2020, the policy and systems to back it must be up and running.

A failure to have a compliant policy in place can attract hefty penalties for both businesses ($126,000) and individuals ($12,600). Breaching whistleblowing protections carries even bigger fines.

This isn't something to put off until next year.

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