This month, BAL Lawyers Senior Associate, Anca Costin spoke on the topic of Whistleblowing and Grievance Handling.

Widespread changes to Australia’s whistleblower protection regime are imminent. On 19 February 2019, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill was passed by Parliament. This bill will amend the Corporations Act, with these reforms becoming operative from 01 July 2019.

These amendments are set to create a much more expansive and strengthened whistleblower protection framework.

Anca’s presentation focused on the key changes to the whistleblowing regime that all employers and HR managers need to be aware of, namely that:

  • The categories of people who can qualify as a protected whistleblower have been expanded. It is no longer the case that active employees, officers and contractors are the only groups of people covered by whistleblower protections, with former employees, officers and contractors as well as associates of the company now being offered protection.
  • The topics that a person may ‘blow the whistle’ about have been broadened. Formerly, a whistleblower was only protected from disclosing conduct in contravention of the Corporations Act. However, whistleblowers will now receive protection for disclosing information relating to misconduct and general ‘improper’ circumstances.
  • Whistleblowers can now elect to remain anonymous.

A key emphasis of the presentation was that after these changes take effect, there is a real need for employers and HR managers to consider having a whistleblower policy in place.

The following video on Whistleblowing was also shown:

After 01 January 2020, all public and private companies will be required to implement a compliant whistleblower policy (with it being highly unlikely that any existing whistleblower policies will be compliant).

If you require any assistance with drafting a compliant policy, please contact BAL Lawyers.

Our next HR Breakfast Club will be held on Friday 21 June 2019. Ian Meagher of BAL Lawyers will be presenting on ‘restraint of trade’.