The new Australia whistleblowing law will come into force on 1 July 2019. Even a small company with 50 employees can be affected under the new law. Failure to comply could result in a modest fine for not having a whistleblowing policy or a far more significant fine of up to $1 million dollars if your whistleblower is victimised or you reveal their identity. To avoid getting fined and meeting the new requirements, we have summarised what’s new and provided a few tips to help you to prepare what you will need in the next few months.
The new definition of “whistleblowers”
The law now applies to anyone that has a present or past relationship with your company. Whistleblowing to your company is no longer limited to current employees. The ex-employees or current employees, even the family members who wants to report on their behalf are qualified for whistleblow and protection.
Things to think about: How could your platform accessible by this extended group of whistleblower? How do make the whistleblowing information available to them?
Anonymous reporting is now “officially” protected by law
The person who reports a wrongdoing is not required to disclose his or her name. One of the main drivers to reduce corporate fraud is to encourage more “neighbourhood watch” by encouraging more disclosure in the organisations. Not only has the government has made good effort to increase protection for whistleblower, but also, they are officially accepting and protecting anonymous whistleblower by giving more choice and encourage whistleblowing. The positive is that the new law should encourage more whistleblowing, as there should be no fear of retaliation with anonymous reporting. However, it does introduce a new challenge to the compliance team.
Things to think about: How could you follow up with anonymous whistleblower when you need to get additional information for an investigation? Not unless you have a tool like IntegraCall® Case Manager - which assist you to communicate even with the anonymous whistleblower.
To include essential information into the policy
The policy should be designed to focus on the whistleblower. It should discuss what support and protection do they will get from your company as well as how do they make a disclosure. It should also provide details about the end-to-end process from the moment a disclosure was received until the moment a case is filed as close.
Things to think about: You may have tried to include these elements in the policy. However, the employees (and now the third party/ employees’ family) were mostly not interested to read it because they thought this is about the boring stuff “law”. What can you do to simplify the language, and add graphical information to support the lengthy and ‘legalese’ policy?
Accessibility and availability
The new law emphasises that your whistleblowing platform must be available to public (whoever has relationship to your company).
Things to think about: You need to consider again your communication plan. What is the best method for your company to display the whistleblower information, that is always available for your employees? How do you make this information also available to their family, and other third parties?
What should you do next?
At a basic level, you should review your entire whistleblowing suite.
First, check if your policy includes the information now required. This includes:
The whistleblower’s protection and rights;
What channels are available. This can include both internal reporting (to a manager or HR) and through a hotline. You can be specific mention which channel accepts anonymous reporting;
The workflow or process of from making a report until the end of the report.
Second, review your whistleblowing options and platform
Can your hotline support the extended group of whistleblower like the employee’s family members?
How will you contact an anonymous whistleblower for additional follow up without the risk of revealing his or her identity?
Third, what is in your communication plan?
How do you increase the chances that everyone is going to read your policy at the roll-out?
Do you have a plan to communicate regularly to keep your employees aware of the whistleblowing policy and activities?
The short cut – get a demo – learn how IntegraCall® can help you meeting these requirements
The IntegraCall® is the right solution for what is changing in the Australia whistleblowing law.
It supports the option of making anonymous report;
It supports the extended whistleblower group such as employees’ family members;
It allows you to send instant messages to whistleblower - making your team’s life easier to investigate/ follow up especially following up an anonymous report;
IntegraCall® is designed and developed starting with the security fundamentals, and to protect whistleblower. The transmission over the network is encrypted. The personal information and device information is not recorded. You are ensuring from the risk of revealing whistleblower’s identity.
We offer simple, affordable solutions tailored to small, middle and large companies and can offer documentation and advice for setting up the platform, policy, and communication plan. You can order and go live in days if no customisation is required. To know more, schedule a demonstration session with us.
About The Red Flag Group®
The Red Flag Group® has many years’ experience in developing programmes related to corporate fraud, workplace harassment as well as whistleblowing. We provide whistleblowing solution, policy and communication support to increase successful operation of your programmes.