Audit Matters December 2019

Whistleblowing legislation

A reminder that entities should have commenced work on their compliance with the new whistleblower legislation.

Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 which significantly expands the scope of disclosure protection under the Corporations Act.

Public companies, large proprietary companies, and proprietary companies that are trustees of registrable superannuation entities must have a whistleblower policy available to their officers and employees by 1 January 2020.

ASIC is granting relief to public companies that are not for profits or charities with annual revenue of less than $1 million from the requirement to have a whistleblower policy.

All companies are bound by the whistleblower protections in the Corporations Act from 1 July 2019, regardless of whether they are required to have a whistleblower policy.

ASIC has issued Regulatory Guide 270 Whistleblower policies (RG 270) to helps these companies establish policies that support and protect whistleblowers and meet their obligations.

In addition to ASIC RG270, Griffith University has released a five-step guide to improving whistleblower policy, Whistling While They Work 2: Improving managerial responses to whistleblowing in public and private sector organisations which is one of the world’s biggest studies into whistleblowing and the first report to focus on management of whistleblowing across business and government.

Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations

Code of Ethics

Remember under the Code of Ethics, accountants who are members of a professional association have a responsibility if they are aware of a non-compliance with laws and regulations defined as:
“Acts of omission or commission, intentional or unintentional, committed by a client or employer, or by those charged with governance, by management or by other individuals working for or under the direction of a client or employer which are contrary to the prevailing laws or regulations.”

The responsibility of the member varies depending on their position or role, there is specific guidance for:

  • auditors
  • other members in public practice
  • senior members in business such as directors, officers or senior employees
  • other members in business.

Accountants should review these requirements on a regular basis to ensure that they are fully in compliance with the Code of Ethics.

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