Employee records and privacy: employer ordered to pay $60,000 compensation for breach of employee privacy
By Andrew Tobin and Hayden Delaney
- An Australian employer was recently ordered, along with other remedial measures, to pay $60,000 compensation (including for ‘aggravated damages’) to 14 employees and former employees for breaching their privacy.
- The decision of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on 28 May 2019 ('QF' & Others and Spotless Group Limited (Privacy)  AICmr 20 (28 May 2019)), highlights the risks for employers associated with improper handling of employee records and provides some useful insights into managing and containing those risks.
- In short, the employer might have avoided liability; much of the formal dispute resolution process, and; the associated adverse publicity, through:
- in the terms and conditions of employment offered to the employees concerned.
- The new Federal whistleblower regime has taken effect as of today, 1 July 2019.
- The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Cth) (Act) marks a major change in how Australian businesses are to deal with whistleblowing.
- It is important that companies, who are yet to do so, get on the front foot to address these changes. A failure to implement proper policies and procedures that are adapted for your business could have serious consequences down the line.
It was with great concern that I read the article about ASIC inserting organisational psychologists into the banking boardrooms. I am in support of the value of the organisational psychologists in assisting the Board, our products and systems are built on their expertise. I am just opposed to the regulator using organisational psychologists as a tool that is not reportable to the Board it is observing.
The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Banking Royal Commission), as part of its inquiry, sought advice from Professor Sunita Sah from Cornell University, in the form of a research paper, on how conflicts of interest and disclosures of conflicts of interest can influence decision making. Professor Sah, an acknowledged expert in behavioural ethics and conflict, provided her research paper on 1 November 2018.
The age of compliance: is your company ready to adopt the new ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations?
By Michelle Eastwell and Melissa Grundy
- The ASX Corporate Governance Council released the Fourth Edition of the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations on 27 February, 2019.
- The Principles are non-prescriptive, recommended principles made by the Council that govern all listed entities’ internal systems and processes to achieve good governance outcomes and promote investor confidence in the market.
- If a listed entity has a financial year ending 31 December the new Principles will come into effect for the financial year ending 31 December 2020. Listed entities with a financial year ending 30 June will have the new Principles come into effect for the financial year ending 30 June 2021.
The ASX Corporate Governance Council in releasing the 4th Edition of the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations hot on the heels of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry: Final Report delivered to us by the Hon Kenneth Hayne AC QC provides a powerful mandate for all Australian boards to drive leading practice corporate governance.
‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ Alice said to the Cheshire Cat. ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat. We are all familiar with this sage advice from a fictitious cat and now we are left in no doubt which road Justice Hayne wants Australian corporations to travel – he makes it all very clear in his final Banking Royal Commission Report and there are very strong messages around board oversight.
At its annual general meeting yesterday, 33.4 per cent of ANZ’s investors rejected its executive remuneration report – well over the 25 per cent threshold required for a first strike. The ANZ Board is a relatively low scorer compared to Westpac where 64.2 per cent of investors rejected their bank’s remuneration report at the annual general meeting last week. The prize, however, for the biggest backlash against a remuneration report goes to NAB which scored a record 88.4 per cent rejection by its investors yesterday.
Boards have rights. A right to information, a right to question management, a right to dictate the quality of the information, how it is presented and the analysis expected. A right to seek external professional advice and a right to ensure the organisation they govern has the right people with the right skills. Importantly, boards have these rights in order to make decisions – not just any decisions, defensible decisions. However, there is one right boards consistently forget – that is the right to say no.
How long does it take for a new director to form a view on the operation of the board they have just joined? It’s a question that was posed by the senior counsel assisting the banking royal commission to the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) Chair Catherine Livingstone yesterday. According to the Chair, you need to see a full cycle of the meetings and activities of the board.