Proposed regulatory change and your best next steps
In 2017 the Australian Government began a process designed to stimulate corporate misconduct whistleblowing as part of its ongoing efforts help grow a lawful corporate sector that Australians can trust. When this new regulation passes later this year, suppliers, affiliates, ex-employees and the family of employees will all be covered by new protections designed to encourage them to blow the whistle on breaches of the law by businesses.
Whilst the regulation changes themselves seem simple, implementation later in 2018 is likely to challenge more than 33,000 organisations (all those with over 50 employees) who will need to introduce new policies, procedures and controls to ensure they comply with the new law. Those protections need to be carefully managed because failure to do so brings with it the risk of fines of up to $200,000 for individuals and $1M for an organisation. Taking action now can stem your risk of non-compliance when the new regulation passes.
Likely areas of high impact for organisations:
- Confidential whistle-blowing report handling will demand strong anonymity protection controls
Widerspan of potential whistleblowers covered by protection potentially triggering increased reporting and work effort downstream to investigate cases
- Communication and training will need to cover ‘how to make a confidential whistleblowing disclosure (report) and ‘how to stem potential non-compliance risk’.
Stage your effort smartly:
- Don’t update policy or training - until the new regulation passes
- Conduct a Fraud, Ethics and Misconduct Pulse Check Survey now – to help you size latent whistleblowing that may be triggered when whistleblower protection law is passed
- Nominate a whistleblowing Disclosure Co-ordinator now – to drive adoption effort
- Don’t add headcount to manage this – but build your flexible capacity now – embed a whistleblowing report-taking service before any spike in reports expected once new regulation passes.
Variables to watch:
- Final mandated requirements
- Reporting trend spikes in your sector– based on media coverage of misconduct incidents. Anticipate your added workload
- The implementation deadline for the new Bill – still to be confirmed
Inclusionof incentives (like bounties) for whistleblowers
- Spikes in vexatious disclosures/reports if ‘in good faith’ provisions are removed as planned
- Controls test plans – how will you prove that your process preserves anonymity and monitors whistleblower protections?
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