The new legislation will see a single strengthened whistleblower protection regime for the corporate, financial and credit sectors and create a new protection regime for reporting tax misconduct from 1 July 2019.
Broadly, the reforms expand the definition of a whistleblower to include both current and former employees, officers and contractors, as well as their spouses and dependants, and anonymous disclosures.
The new regime will also enhance protections for whistleblowers and provide remedies if they suffer losses.
New civil penalty provisions, in addition to the existing criminal offences, for causing detriment to (or victimising) a whistleblower and for breaches of confidentiality will be created.
All public companies, large proprietary companies and corporate trustees of registrable superannuation entities are now also required to have a whistleblower policy within six months of the commencement of the new regime.
Further, the new tax whistleblower regime is intended to encourage individuals to disclose information to the ATO on tax avoidance behaviour and other tax issues that previously carried no such legislative protection.
“These reforms will help ASIC to perform our important regulatory role by encouraging people who have observed misconduct to come forward,” said ASIC executive director Warren Day.
“They complement the measures we have put in place since 2014 to improve our processes for assessing whistleblower reports and communicating with whistleblowers during our inquiries.”
ASIC’s Office of the Whistleblower will oversee the implementation of the reforms when they commence from 1 July 2019.