Corporate whistleblowers will have stronger rights and protections from today after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) updated regulatory guidance.
Under the changes in the Corporations Act 2001, which came into force on 1 July, whistleblowers would be able to maintain their confidentiality and be prevented from suffering or being treated with detriment. They would also be able to seek compensation if they suffer loss, damage or injury for making their disclosure.
These protections would also apply to those who may have observed or been affected by company misconduct and face reprisals for reporting it, including current and former employees, officers, contractors as well as their spouses and dependants.
From 1 January, public and large propriety companies would be required to have a whistleblower policy and ASIC added this would be consulted on in due course.
ASIC said it hoped the changes would encourage people to come forward to raise concerns and reports can be lodged on its online misconduct reporting form.
John Price, ASIC commissioner, said: “We value the people from inside companies and organisations who come to ASIC with reports of potential misconduct or breaches of the law. Whistleblowers provide ASIC with important information and help us enforce the laws we administer to address and prevent harm to consumers.
“ASIC considers a strong and effective arrangement for handling reports from whistleblowers is a key component of corporate governance. We encourage companies to implement a strategy for dealing with whistleblower reports that they may receive in line with legislative requirements.”