Protecting yourself as a whistleblower

Law Blog

If you discover that someone in your company or government department, or a public official, has acted inappropriately you can highlight their poor behaviour and be protected under Australia's whistleblowing laws. Here is some advice on the way to protect yourself as a whistleblower. 

In your company

If the wrongdoing you discover is in a private company you will be protected under the Corporations Act. This protects you against retaliation including losing your job. In order to be protected you need to make sure that your report of wrongdoing is made to a suitable person or organisation including a senior manager or executive, a member of the audit team or regulatory body such ASIC or the police. It's also a good idea to speak to a lawyer before you start this process as there is some ongoing legal debate over the definition of wrong doing. 

A public officer

If you receive information that a public officer such as a police officer is acting wrongly you can also access specific departments that deal with complaints through the governing body for that public officer. For example complaints about a police officer can be lodged with the internal police department, and also through the justice minister. The name of the internal department that deals with complaints will change between states as these officers are managed by state departments. You are still protected against repercussions providing the complaint is made in good faith and this can include any actions taken against your company such as removing existing supply contracts from your business if you advise about corruption in the department that you are servicing. 

In your government department

If you work in the state or federal government there are strong protections available from the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 which was introduced in January 2014. This same act also puts important responsibilities onto the government departments or officials who receive complaints in the previous example. This act also allows for reports to be made anonymously so that officials can lodge complaints and not be concerned about any repercussions when being targetted. 

Anyone who is contemplating a whistleblowing disclosure should meet with a lawyer like RAMSDEN LAWYERS before they proceed. This will allow them to explain your rights and the counterparties responsibilities to you in a way that is specific to your circumstances. They can also help you to come up with a plan of action to enforce your protection rights if required. 


11 May 2016

Helping employees deal with unfair bosses

In my job as a student advisor I hear a lot of complaints about the unfair conditions that some bosses impose on their employees. I'm not a lawyer, but I am very familiar with which conditions are actually illegal and which are just things that some employees don't like being asked to do — like clean the toilets. This blog has some resources to help employees know if what their boss is asking them to do is illegal or just annoying. Knowing even just a little bit about the law can go a long way in making sure you're being treated properly.