ASIC has issued its final guidance on the content of whistleblowing policies. ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 270 ‘Whistleblower Policies’ sets out what information policies should contain in order for companies to be compliant with their obligations under the new Australian whistleblowing regime. You can read more about the new whistleblowing regime and its requirements in our previous alert here.
Although the significantly expanded protections and new offences introduced by the whistleblowing reforms commenced on 1 July 2019, the requirement for public and large proprietary companies and proprietary companies that are trustees of registrable superannuation entities to have a compliant whistleblowing policies in place will commence from 1 January 2020. It will be an offence for those companies not to have a compliant whistleblowing policy.
ASIC’s guidance sets out both ASIC’s recommendations for those mandatory sections of whistleblowing policies required by the whistleblowing legislation, as well as some general good practice recommendations for whistleblowing policies and procedures. The guidance uses prescriptive language by which companies ‘must’ adopt certain recommendations that relate to mandatory policy sections, and even these sections contain more detailed levels of information than most companies would have included in their whistleblowing policies prior to the new regime.
Companies should give careful consideration to how they will implement ASIC’s guidance on those mandatory policy sections and which of the ‘good practice’ guidance they propose to adopt so that they balance the requirements of the legislation and the guidance against the desire to have a policy which employees can easily understand. Please contact us if you require any assistance in preparing whistleblowing policies and ensuring consistency with existing compliance procedures.