Why every business needs a whistleblower policy

Your Call’s CEO, Nathan Luker, recent discussed all things Whistleblowing with SmartCompany’s editor.

Assuming they started the year on the front foot, large proprietary companies and other qualifying organisations across Australia would have introduced or uplifted current whistleblower policies to meet a January 1 deadline as mandated by legislation passed in July 2019.

The enhancements to the whistleblower provisions laid out in the Australian Corporations Act include a wider range of reportable misconduct, protections for more people and allowance for anonymous disclosures. They also involve much higher penalties for those in breach of the regulations, including individual fines of up to $1 million, jail sentences of up to two years and corporate fines of up to $525 million.

So what does this mean for SMEs and startups who don’t fit ASIC’s definition of a large proprietary company?

While it may not yet be mandatory for them to implement a dedicated whistleblower policy, they are obliged to comply with the expanded protections. With that said, there are a number of very compelling reasons why they should proactively develop and implement the policy too.

The risks to businesses of not having a policy

A report of misconduct poorly handled can have disastrous repercussions for a business. Where it leads to negative commercial or media exposure, it can result in decreased demand, reduced morale, put prospective funding and capital investments at risk, and potentially create long-term reputational harm.

Regardless of whether having a policy in place is mandatory for your company or not, mishandling a whistleblower report will not be taken lightly by ASIC regulators.

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Originally published on 6 February, 2020