Shell Australia Whistleblower policy
This Shell Australia Whistleblower policy has been prepared to meet the requirements under the Australian Corporations Act and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s guidelines.
At Shell we are judged by how we act: our reputation will be protected and enhanced if we put into practice our core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people. These values underpin our Shell General Business Principles and the Shell Code of Conduct.
Our Global Helpline allows employees and stakeholders to raise concerns and report instances of potential non-compliance with our values and principles.
Australia has enacted a legal regime that provides specific protections for those making reports of certain types of wrongdoing (the Australian Whistleblower laws**). This document explains: these Whistleblower protections; how they will apply in relation to the group of Australian companies that are controlled directly or indirectly by the UK incorporated Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell Australia) and to Shell Australia’s businesses and operations; and how these protections interact with relevant Shell Global Policies*.
This Shell Australia Whistleblower policy aims to provide clarity on how Shell Australia supports you so that you:
- are encouraged to express your concerns;
- know how to express your concerns;
- know what will happen when you express your concerns; and
- feel safe in expressing your concerns.
Shell Australia strongly encourages its stakeholders to disclose concerns
Shell Australia strongly encourages its current and former directors, officers, employees, and contractors (and their relatives and dependents) (Shell Australia Stakeholders) to disclose any suspicion or allegation, based on reasonable grounds, of:
- non-compliance with the mandatory requirements in the Shell General Business Principles, the Shell Code of Conduct and the Shell Ethics and Compliance Manual;
- non-compliance by a third party where this could affect Shell Australia; or
- any other misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances.
You can make any such disclosures anonymously via the Global Helpline, visit Shell Global Helpline.
Shell Australia Stakeholders who make such disclosures, are referred to in the remainder of this Shell Australia Whistleblower policy as Whistleblowers.
It is important to note that Whistleblowers will only have the legal protections outlined in Section 7 below if the disclosures meet the requirements of Sections 2 and 3.
Types of matters the policy applies to
Examples of the type of behaviour Whistleblowers are encouraged to disclose (based on reasonable grounds) under this Shell Australia Whistleblower policy are:
- illegal conduct, such as theft, dealing in, or use of illicit drugs, violence or threatened violence, and criminal damage against property;
- fraud, money laundering or misappropriation of funds;
- offering or accepting a bribe;
- financial or tax irregularities;
- failure to comply with legal or regulatory requirements; and
- engaging in or threatening to engage in detrimental conduct against a person who has made a disclosure or is believed or suspected to have made, or be planning to make, a disclosure under this Shell Australia Whistleblower policy.
Whistleblowers making such disclosures, based on reasonable grounds, are eligible for protections under Australian Whistleblower laws**, for any disclosures that they make in accordance with this Shell Australia Whistleblower policy.
Who can you make your protected disclosure to?
Whistleblowers may make protected disclosures to:
- their line manager, the Global Helpline, to Human Resources (HR), Shell Legal, an Ethics and Compliance Officer or directly to the Business Integrity Department; and/or
- their own legal advisers (for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the Australian Whistleblower laws**), the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Tax Office (ATO) or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation.
Whistleblowers can also obtain additional information on this Shell Australia Whistleblower policy and Australian Whistleblower laws** from (to the extent relevant) an Ethics and Compliance Officer, Shell Legal, the Global Helpline or an independent legal adviser prior to making a disclosure.
Accessing the Global Helpline
Whistleblowers can make a disclosure in confidence by contacting the Shell Global Helpline which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via telephone and through the internet, and staffed by an independent third party. You can call or submit a report anonymously if you wish. To access the helpline, visit Shell Global Helpline.
Public Interest or Emergency Disclosures
In certain circumstances, Whistleblowers will also have protection if they make public interest or emergency disclosures to parliamentarians or journalists.
A Whistleblower may make a “public interest disclosure” to a journalist or a parliamentarian, where:
- at least 90 days have passed since the discloser made the disclosure to ASIC, APRA, the ATO or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation;
- the Whistleblower does not have reasonable grounds to believe that action is being, or has been taken, in relation to their disclosure;
- the Whistleblower has reasonable grounds to believe that making a further disclosure of the information is in the public interest; and
- before making the public interest disclosure, the Whistleblower has 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 the Whistleblower intends to make a public interest disclosure.
A Whistleblower may make an “emergency disclosure” of information to a journalist or parliamentarian, where:
- the Whistleblower has previously made a disclosure of the information to ASIC, APRA, the ATO or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation;
- the Whistleblower has reasonable grounds to believe that the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health or safety of one or more persons or to the natural environment;
- before making the emergency disclosure, the Whistleblower has 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 the Whistleblower intends to make an emergency disclosure; and
- the extent of the information disclosed in the emergency disclosure is no greater than is necessary to inform the journalist or parliamentarian of the substantial and imminent danger.
It is important that Whistleblowers understand the criteria for making such public interest or emergency disclosures, before so disclosing. If in doubt Whistleblowers should obtain independent legal advice.
How will you be protected?
Shell Australia is legally obliged to keep a Whistleblower’s identity confidential and (if requested by the Whistleblower) anonymous. Any breach of this obligation can result in civil penalties and in extreme cases, criminal sanctions for both Shell Australia itself and any individuals who have breached this requirement.
Notwithstanding the above confidentiality obligation, the Australian Whistleblower laws** allow Shell Australia to disclose the identity of a Whistleblower:
- to ASIC, APRA, or a member of the Australian Federal Police (within the meaning of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979);
- to a legal practitioner (for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation about the Australian Whistleblower laws**);
- to a person or body prescribed by regulations; or
- with the consent of the discloser.
Shell Australia is legally obliged to protect any Whistleblower who makes a protected disclosure (as set out in Section 2) and those who participate in or conduct an investigation, from retaliation or victimisation. Again any breach can result in civil penalties and in extreme cases, criminal sanctions for both Shell Australia itself and any individuals who have breached this requirement.
A Whistleblower is also protected from any of the following in relation to their disclosure:
- civil liability (e.g. any legal action against the discloser for breach of an employment contract, duty of confidentiality or another contractual obligation);
- criminal liability (e.g. attempted prosecution of the discloser for unlawfully releasing information, or other use of the disclosure against the discloser in a prosecution (other than for making a false disclosure)); and
- administrative liability (e.g. disciplinary action for making the disclosure).
Making a disclosure will not result in any immunity for the Whistleblower for any misconduct engaged in by the Whistleblower which is revealed as a result of the disclosure.
Examples of the forms of retaliation or victimisation Whistleblowers are protected from when making a disclosure protected by the Australian Whistleblower laws** include (as relevant):
- the Whistleblower’s dismissal;
- injury in the Whistleblower’s employment;
- alteration of the Whistleblower’s position or duties to the Whistleblower’s disadvantage;
- discrimination between the Whistleblower and other Shell Australia employees;
- harassment or intimidation;
- harm or injury, including psychological harm;
- damage to the Whistleblower’s property;
- damage to the Whistleblower’s reputation;
- damage to the Whistleblower’s business or financial position; or
- any other damage to the Whistleblower.
Whistleblowers still qualify for the above protections if made anonymously and even if their disclosure ultimately turns out to be incorrect, provided it was made based on reasonable grounds.
Shell Australia will not tolerate any form of retaliation directed against anyone who raises a concern on reasonable grounds. Any act or threat of retaliation against a Whistleblower will be treated as a serious violation of the Shell Code of Conduct.
Examples of the forms of action that are not detrimental conduct on the part of Shell Australia include:
- administrative action that is reasonable for the purpose of protecting a Whistleblower from detriment (e.g. moving a Whistleblower who has made a disclosure about their immediate work area to another office to prevent them from detriment); and
- managing a Whistleblower’s unsatisfactory work performance, if the action is in line with Shell Australia’s performance management framework.
When will you not be protected under the Australian Whistleblower laws**?
A Whistleblower will not be protected under the Australian Whistleblower laws** for the following:
- disclosures that relate solely to personal work-related grievances, and that do not relate to detriment or threat of detriment to you in connection with a protected disclosure under this policy;
- other disclosures not covered by Sections 2 and 3; or
- disclosures not made on reasonable grounds.
“Personal work-related grievances” are those that relate to a Whistleblower’s current or former employment and have, or tend to have, implications for the Whistleblower personally, but do not:
- have any other significant implications for Shell Australia; or
- relate to any conduct, or alleged conduct, about a disclosable matter under this policy.
Examples of personal work-related grievances include:
- an interpersonal conflict between the Whistleblower and another employee;
- a decision that does not involve a breach of workplace laws;
- a decision about the Whistleblower’s engagement, transfer or promotion unrelated to any protected disclosure the Whistleblower has made pursuant to this policy;
- a decision about the Whistleblower’s terms and conditions of engagement; or
- a decision to suspend or terminate the Whistleblower’s engagement or otherwise to discipline the Whistleblower unrelated to any protected disclosure the Whistleblower has made pursuant to this policy.
A personal work-related grievance may still qualify for protection under the Australian Whistleblower laws** if:
- it includes information about misconduct, or information about misconduct includes or is accompanied by a personal work-related grievance (mixed report);
- Shell Australia has breached employment or other laws punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more, engaged in conduct that represents a danger to the public, or the disclosure relates to information that suggests misconduct beyond the Whistleblower’s personal circumstances;
- the Whistleblower suffers from or is threatened with detriment for making the disclosure in breach of the Australian Whistleblower laws**; or
- the disclosure of the grievance is in the context of the Whistleblower seeking legal advice or legal representation about the operation of the Australian Whistleblower laws**.
The Whistleblower may still have other protections under relevant Shell Global Policies* for the above disclosures not protected by the Australian Whistleblower laws**, depending on the nature of the disclosure.
Who can you contact if you believe you are not being protected as required by Australian Whistleblower laws**?
Whistleblowers can contact:
- their line manager, the Global Helpline, Human Resources (HR), Shell Legal, an Ethics and Compliance Officer, the Business Integrity Department; or
- their own legal adviser or regulatory bodies such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO,
if they believe they have suffered detriment or failed to receive their legal protections.
Further, Whistleblowers have the right to obtain Court orders in connection with any detrimental conduct experienced in breach of the Australian Whistleblower laws**, including compensation for loss, damage or injury.
How will Shell Australia investigate your disclosure?
Investigations into Whistleblower disclosures will be conducted in line with the relevant Shell Global Policies* and will be performed by the Business Integrity Department, HR or the relevant business or function (e.g. HSE). A Whistleblower may choose to remain anonymous while making a disclosure over the course of the investigation and after the investigation is finalised.
All investigations will be conducted in the strictest confidence (subject to the exceptions set out in Section 7). The need for anonymity (if requested by the Whistleblower) and/or confidentiality begins with receipt of allegation and continues beyond the conclusion of the investigation.
Investigations will be conducted in a manner that is fair, impartial and objective. Whilst investigations vary in complexity and duration, they will be commenced promptly and where possible this should be no longer than is reasonably necessary given the investigation scope. Where a disclosure is made through the Shell Global Helpline the discloser will receive a unique reference via a report number and personal identification number (PIN). This unique reference can be used so the discloser can access the status of an investigation including when it is concluded. Findings from investigations will be provided to management for their review and action as appropriate.
While the above principles will continue to apply, the format, process and substance of each particular investigation may vary, as appropriate, depending on the nature of the relevant disclosure.
Fair treatment of those affected by the investigation
Shell Australia will ensure the fair treatment of its employees who are mentioned in a disclosure under this policy, including those who are the subject of a disclosure.
Where you can find the policy and ongoing training
This Shell Australia Whistleblower policy is available via this link.
Shell Australia is responsible for implementing and overseeing the provision of Shell Australia Whistleblower policy training and communications to staff. Training and communication requirements will be reviewed regularly to ensure they are relevant to staff and Shell Australia’s business.
* Shell Global Policies
Shell’s relevant global policies can be found at:
** Australian Whistleblower laws
The Australian Corporations Act (Cw) was amended on 1 July 2019 to create a new Whistleblower regime (see new Part 9.4AAA). See https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/asic-investigations-and-enforcement/whistleblowing/ for more information.
In addition to the Corporations Act(Cw), Whistleblower protections are also provided in the tax whistleblower regime under Part IVD of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Taxation Administration Act). See https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=s1120 for more information.