Whistleblower Policy

Purpose

PBS is committed to building with integrity based on the founding values of mateship, respect, enjoyment, trust and pride, promoting and supporting a culture of honest and ethical behavior and corporate compliance.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that employees understand what reportable conduct is, how to make a report, how PBS will investigate reports and protect whistleblowers.

Relevant Legislation

  • The Corporations Act (Cth) 2001
  • The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019
  • The Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth)

 

Key Principles

The key principles that govern receiving, assessing and investigating Whistleblower Disclosures and the Protection of Whistleblowers from detriment are as follows:

In the event of a disclosure that is protected by this Policy, PBS will endeavour to follow the risk management process outlined in this Policy. Specifically, PBS will make reasonable efforts to:

  • Ensure the confidentiality of the Eligible Whistleblower is maintained at all times.
  • Ensure employees conduct themselves appropriately in accordance with this Policy.
  • In the event that a Protected Disclosure is substantiated, take appropriate action if required.
  • Keep records of the risk management & disclosure management and investigation process.
  • Protect the Eligible Whistleblower against any retribution or victimisation.
  • Ensure that all employees and officers of PBS are familiar with and, have understood the rules and regulations as detailed in this Policy.
  • Where appropriate – keep the Eligible Whistleblower informed of the progress of the review of the protected disclosure.

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to PBS Personnel which includes a current or former;

  • R• Employee or volunteer;
    • Officer, Director or Executive;
    • Contractor, Consultant or Associate;
    • Supplier or Service Provider;
    OR
    • A spouse, relative or dependant of one of these people.

PBS will only collect information for lawful purposes related to its function.

Reason for collection

Personal information is collected for the purpose of:

  • Assessing your suitability for a type of job/contract
  • Assessing your suitability for a position
  • Processing payments
  • Contacts and next of kin in case of an emergency.

Other material is more refined such as:

  • details/copies of licencing & mandatory training required by Industry and Work Health & Safety Legislation
  • details of qualifications, skills, experience etc so that we can market the business and submit tenders

What is a Whistleblower?

A Whistleblower is a person associated with our business, who makes or attempts to make a report of Reportable Conduct under
this Policy.

 

What is Reportable Conduct?

  • Reportable Conduct means any conduct in relation to PBS that:
  • is illegal, dishonest, fraudulent, corrupt or negligent;
  • is misleading, deceptive or unethical;
  • is a failure by the Company, its officers or employees to comply with any legal obligation;
  • is a breach of company policy, including breach of the PBS Vision, Mission and Values statement;
  • is unsafe work practices or conduct that may otherwise endanger health and safety;
  • is a serious waste of resources or a breach of environmental practice;
  • is coercion, harassment, victimisation, discrimination, or an abuse of authority;
  • is damaging to, or an abuse of PBS’s assets or resources;
  • is detrimental to PBS’s financial position, reputation or interests; is detrimental to a person who has or is planning to make a disclosure that is protected by this policy;
  • misconduct or an improper state of affairs in relation to PBS;
  • a deliberate cover up of any of the above;
  • This includes concerns regarding conduct that has occurred or is likely to occur.

When will a report be a Protected Disclosure?

For a disclosure to be a Protected Disclosure under this policy, the reporting Whistleblower must be an Eligible Whistleblower,
which is a person who is PBS Personnel, who;

  • reports conduct that is Reportable Conduct;
  • reports based on reasonable grounds to suspect that the information in the report is true or likely to be true;
  • makes the report in accordance with this Policy to one of the Nominated Recipients; and
  • has not themselves engaged in serious misconduct or illegal activity, in relation to the Reportable Conduct.

Whistleblowing & Grievance Reporting

We encourage all PBS Personnel to promptly report any improper, unacceptable behaviour, or Reportable Conduct, as soon as you become aware of it; however, there are specific processes for reporting depending on the type of conduct being reported.

This policy relates to Whistleblowing (as defined in the legislation) which is not the same as making a complaint or raising a personal or work related grievance, because the objective of ‘blowing the whistle’ (under the legislation), is to correct a wrongdoing or malpractice that affects the broader interests of PBS or the public interest.

Therefore, the majority of this policy content applies to these types of reports.

Reports that involve a personal or work related grievance that relate to an employee’s employment or former employment, which may have had an impact on them personally (that are not connected to victimisation as a Whistleblower) can and should be reported internally through normal management processes OR by using the ProAct Link Hotline or online reporting option.

Issues such as these that are related to Human Resources are managed under separate mechanisms and policies and are therefore not generally considered to be Reportable Conduct, nor are they included in the provisions described in this policy and the relating legislation regarding Whistleblower Protection.

When should I raise a concern?

You should raise a concern under this Policy where you have reasonable grounds to suspect that Reportable Conduct has occurred
or is likely to occur.

This Policy is designed to complement PBS’s normal communication channels and is not intended to restrict PBS from raising
issues and discussing grievances and concerns with appropriate Supervisors or Managers

Reporting a Reportable Conduct – Nominated Recipients

PBS has the following channels for making a report if you become aware of any issue or behaviour which you consider to be Reportable Conduct.
These internal and external channels are considered to be nominated recipients for reports of Reportable Conduct.

Internal Reporting Channels
Whistleblower Protection Officer

The role of the Whistleblower Protection Officer is a role that has been specifically created to receive Whistleblower reports and provide guidance and support to PBS Personnel.

The Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO) will also coordinate investigations as required regarding Whistleblower reports.

The WPO for PBS is:
Name: Deepali Dholepatil – HR Advisor
Phone: 02 6101 9813
Email: deepali.dholepatil@pbsbuilding.com.au

Additional internal eligible recipients of protected disclosures:

In addition to reporting to the WPO, reports can be made to the following nominated recipients:

Managing Director – Ian Carter

Director and General Manager – Warren Ahrens

Director and Regional Manager QLD – Wayne Ahrens

Director and General Manager ACT  – Adam Moore

General Manager NSW – Dominic Fussell

Chief Financial Officer – Stewart Ball

Chief Operating Officer – Matthew Rayment

Reports may also be posted to PO Box 302 Deakin West ACT 2600 marked to the attention of one of the Protected Disclosure Officers.
Reports can be emailed to protected.disclosure@pbsbuilding.com.au (this is a restricted email address with access only available to the Chief Operating Office and HR Advisor).

 

Whistleblower Report Form

If you choose to report via email or via post, please complete the Whistleblower Report Form at Appendix 2.

External Reporting Channels

If you would prefer not to speak to anyone internally regarding the Reportable Conduct, you can make a disclosure directly to ProAct Link (PBS’ outsourced provider) is an external and independent hotline and reporting service.

ProAct Link reporting options are:
By phone: 1800 888 340 (free call)
Online: www.proactlink.com.au (this option also allows for upload of documents)

Reports made to ProAct Link should include as much information as possible, including –

  • a description of the conduct and person(s) involved;
  • date, time, and location of the conduct;
  • possible witnesses to the conduct;
  • any available evidence of the conduct (e.g. documents, emails).

Anonymous Reporting

A report may be submitted anonymously to the Whistleblower Protection Officer or to ProAct Link if you do not wish to disclose your identity. If you do disclose your identity to ProAct Link, you can request that they do not disclose it to PBS.

ProAct Link will not disclose your identity to PBS without your consent, or unless legally compelled to do so.

Reporting to Regulators

Nothing in this Policy is intended to restrict PBS Personnel from disclosing Reportable Conduct, providing information to, or communicating with a government agency, law enforcement body, regulator, or legal adviser in accordance with any relevant law or regulation.

Whistleblowers can therefore also report to –

  • an actuary or an auditor of PBS;
  • external regulators such as ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission), APRA (Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority), and the Tax Commissioner;
  • a legal practitioner for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or representation in relation to the operation of the Whistleblower provisions of relevant legislation.

These authorities are also considered to be Nominated Recipients.

Emergency or Public Interest disclosures

In certain limited circumstances such as if the breach has an imminent risk of causing harm or danger to public health or safety, an emergency or public interest disclosure can be made to a journalist or a Member of Parliament.

These reports may be protected under legislation and this Policy, where certain circumstances are met, including that ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body has first been notified.
Refer to Appendix 1 regarding relevant criteria.

If you wish to make an Emergency or Public Interest Disclosure, you may wish to seek independent legal advice to ensure that the disclosure would be protected.

Receiving a report

If you are the person that a report is made to, and you believe that behaviour reported may be in regard to Reportable Conduct –

  • Notify the Whistleblower Protection Officer and report the information received to them only;

OR

  • Report the information to ProAct Link;

Do not discuss the report or the identity of the person making the report with anyone else.

Unauthorised disclosure of the whistleblowers identity or information from which the identity of the whistleblower could be inferred, will be regarded as a disciplinary matter and will be dealt with in accordance with PBS’s disciplinary procedures.

Confidentiality and Privacy

PBS will make all reasonable efforts to ensure the identity of a Whistleblower remains confidential throughout the investigation process. The identity of a Whistleblower will not be disclosed unless;

  • The Whistleblower consents to the disclosure of their identity,
  • Disclosure of the Whistleblower’s identity is compelled by law,
  • Disclosure is necessary to prevent a serious threat to any person’s health or safety, or
  • It is necessary to protect or enforce PBS’s legal rights or interests or to defend any claims.

PBS Corporate Team is required to report to the Board the number of whistleblower incidents reported. These reports will be made on a ‘no names’ basis, maintaining the confidentiality of matters raised under this policy.

Support and Protections Available to Disclosers
PBS is committed to the protection of PBS personnel who make a report under this Policy where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that Reportable Conduct may have occurred or is likely to occur.

Eligible Whistleblowers who make Protected Disclosures will be protected from any civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for making a disclosure.

No contractual or other remedies can be enforced against the Whistleblower if they are exercised because of their disclosure. Any information that is part of a disclosure is not generally admissible in evidence against a Whistleblower in criminal proceedings involving a penalty, except in proceedings about the falsity of the information.

Where a Protected Disclosure is made by PBS Personnel, PBS will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the discloser will not be personally disadvantaged or suffer any Detriment as a result of having made the disclosure, including the following:

  • dismissal;
  • injuring the employee in their employment;
  • altering the persons position or duties to their disadvantage;
  • discrimination, harassment or intimidation;
  • harm or injury including psychological harm;
  • damage to personal property, reputation, business or financial position;
  • current or future bias;

If any PBS Personnel consider they have suffered any of the described Detriment as a result of making a disclosure, they should report this to the Whistleblower Protection Officer.
Refer to Appendix 1 regarding further detail regarding protections and remedies provided for by the relevant legislation.

Where the person making the disclosure is a PBS employee, PBS will at all times be able to raise and address with them matters that arise in the ordinary course of their employment or contractual relationship (for example, any separate performance or misconduct concerns).

 

Investigation Process

All investigations will be conducted in an objective and fair manner, and otherwise as is reasonable and appropriate having regard to the nature of the Reportable Conduct and the circumstances.

Once a disclosure is received by the Whistleblower Protection Officer, they will carry out an initial review of the disclosure to determine:

  • if the information in the disclosure is sufficient to allow for further investigation;
  • if it is appropriate to investigate the matter, taking into account whether the report concerns matters that have previously been
    addressed or investigated; and
  • whether the information in the report relates to Reportable Conduct.

If considered appropriate, conduct a thorough investigation to locate evidence that either substantiates or refutes the claims made by the Whistleblower.

The Whistleblower Protection Officer will conduct investigations as soon as is possible after the matter has been reported, and may appoint additional persons including, external investigators, or law enforcement agencies as appropriate to assist in the investigation.

Investigations will be conducted without bias, and the person(s) against whom the allegations or complaint is made will be afforded procedural fairness including being given the right to respond.

 

Feedback to a Whistleblower

Where appropriate, the Whistleblower Protection Officer or ProAct Link will provide feedback to the Whistleblower regarding the investigation’s progress and/or outcome (subject to considerations of privacy of those against whom allegations are made).

Protection of files and records

All files and records created from an investigation will be retained under strict security and unauthorised release of information to someone not involved in the investigation (other than senior managers or Directors who need to take appropriate action, or for corporate governance purposes) without the consent of the Whistleblower will be in breach of this Policy.

Whistleblowers are assured that a release of information in breach of this Policy will be regarded as a serious matter and will be dealt with under PBS’s disciplinary procedures.

 

Consequences of making a false report

When making a disclosure it is expected that the person disclosing has reasonable grounds to suspect that the information being disclosed is true.

The person disclosing will not be penalized if the information they disclosed reasonably believing it to be true, is discovered by an investigation to not be true.

However, disclosures that are known not to be true, or are misleading will be considered to be false reports and to be a breach of this Policy which may result in disciplinary action.

There may also be legal consequences for knowingly making a false report.

 

Policy Availability & Training

PBS employees will be made aware and have access to this Policy and the mechanisms for the reporting of Reportable Conduct through PBS’s induction and training programs.

A copy of this Policy will be made available on PBS’s intranet

ProAct Link contact information will be available in all PBS workplaces.

Training on this Policy will be provided to all Whistleblower Protection Officer/s and any other officers or employees of PBS who may receive Reportable Conduct reports or conduct investigations into reports.

 

Review

This Policy is to be reviewed regularly as required to protect the interests of PBS Personnel and to improve effectiveness of the Policy.

Appendix 1

Special protections under the Corporations Act & Whistleblower Legislation

The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) & Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 give special protection to disclosures about potential breaches of the Acts where the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. the whistleblower is a current or former director, officer, employee, contractor, supplier or service provider of the organisation(including dependents and relatives of these people): and
  2. the report is made to a nominated recipient: and
  3. the report is about reportable conduct (not a personal grievance).
The protections given by the Corporations Act & Whistleblower Legislation when these conditions are met are:
  • a whistleblower will have immunity from civil, criminal or administrative liability (such as disciplinary action) for making a Whistleblower Disclosure;
  • information received from a Whistleblower Disclosure will generally not be admissible into evidence against the whistleblower in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty, unless the proceedings relate to the falsity of the information;
  • no contractual or other remedies or rights may be enforced or exercised against a discloser on the basis of the Whistleblower Disclosure;
  • a contract cannot be terminated on the basis that the Whistleblower Disclosure constitutes a breach of contract;
  • it is an offence and a breach of a civil penalty provision if a person discloses either the identity of the whistleblower or information that is likely to lead to the identification of the whistleblower if they obtained the information directly or indirectly from a Whistleblower and the person is not otherwise authorised to make a disclosure under the Corporations Act regime;
  • it is both an offence and a breach of a civil penalty provision if a person engages in conduct that actually causes detriment or threatens detrimental conduct to a second person because the victimiser believes or suspects that a Whistleblower Report has or may be made.

If a whistleblower suffers detriment because of conduct or a threat of detrimental conduct, then a claim may be brought against:

  • the individual or company who engaged in the detrimental conduct;
  • if the detrimental conduct was engaged in by the company, then current or former officers and employees who conspired or were knowingly concerned in the detrimental conduct;
  • a company which has a duty to prevent an individual from engaging in detrimental conduct.

 

If a whistleblower succeeds in their application, then they may seek compensation, an injunction, an apology, reinstatement of their employment or, in certain circumstances, exemplary damages.

Special types of disclosures: Public interest disclosures and emergency disclosures

Under Whistleblower laws, there are also special circumstances where Eligible Whistleblowers can report Reportable Conduct or Reportable Tax Conduct to members of the Australian parliament or journalists.

If you are an Eligible Whistleblower, you can make a “Public Interest Disclosure” of Reportable Conduct or Reportable Tax Conduct to a member of an Australian parliament, or a journalist, that will qualify for protection under this Policy only if all of the following conditions are met:

  • you previously made a disclosure of Reportable Conduct or Reportable Tax Conduct that qualified for protection under this Policy to ASIC, APRA or a Prescribed Commonwealth Authority;
  • at least 90 days has passed since that disclosure was made;
  • you do not have reasonable grounds to believe that action has been take, or is being taken, to address the matters identified in the disclosure;
  • you have reasonable grounds to believe that making a further disclosure that would be in the public interest; and
  • before making the public interest disclosure, you have given written notice to the body to which the previous disclosure was made that:
  • includes sufficient information to identify the previous disclosure; and
  • states that you intend to make a ‘public interest disclosure’.

You can make an “Emergency Disclosure” of Reportable Conduct or Reportable Tax Conduct to a member of an Australian parliament, or a journalist, that will qualify for protection under this Policy only if all of the following conditions are met:

  • You previously made a disclosure of Reportable Conduct or Reportable Tax Conduct that qualified for protection under thisPolicy to ASIC, APRA or a Prescribed Commonwealth Authority;
  • You have reasonable grounds to believe that the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health or safetyof one or more persons or to the natural environment;
  • before making the public interest disclosure, you have given written notice to the body to which the previous disclosure wasmade that:
  •  includes sufficient information to identify the previous disclosure; and
  • states that you intend to make an ‘emergency disclosure’; and
  • the extent of the information disclosed in the ‘emergency disclosure’ is no greater than is necessary to inform theparliamentarian or journalist of the substantial and imminent danger.