7 Nov 2022

New whistleblowers' protection bill sees demand for legal advice skyrocket

10:40 am on 7 November 2022
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Demand for legal advice on whistleblowing has surged as businesses grapple with new legislation that has come into force.

The updated Protected Disclosures Act aims to strengthen safeguards for employees, with an extension to the definition of the term "serious wrongdoing."

The law firm Tompkins Wake said it had seen a near five-fold increase in demand for advice on the new law over the past 12 months - with noticeable demand from multinationals.

Senior associate Tina Liu said the biggest question from the firm's clients was how to comply with the law.

"The good news for them - particularly for private businesses - is the new law I think achieves quite a good balance between setting out some clear guidelines on what the law expects in terms of compliance.

"[It also gives] businesses the ability to be flexible in how they design the mechanics for compliance."

Private businesses were not required to have whistleblower policies, but Liu said small to medium enterprises should not ignore it.

"If they have employees, if they have contractors that work in their business, I do think they should care about it because if things go wrong, they want to be able to give those employees and contractors the confidence that they come forward to the employer to deal with that in house and manage that directly.

"[That's] as opposed to letting them go loose and disclose it to other avenues."

Having a whistleblower policy would set out framework for dealing with serious wrongdoing, and would foster an internal culture of trust, Liu said.

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