Whistleblowing function – report of wrongdoing
The whistleblowing function
Under the new law protecting people who report wrongdoings, known as the Whistleblowing Act (2021:890), Uppsala University (UU) is obliged to establish an internal reporting channel (a whistleblowing function). The Act enables people to report work-related wrongdoings that contravene Union law or that are so serious in nature that there is a general interest in ensuring they cease.
This could, for example, concern wrongdoings that pose an imminent or manifest danger to life, health or safety, a risk of extensive environmental damage, or some other matter that there is legitimate reason to report to the authority, e.g. financial irregularities and corruption.
The protection ensuing from the Whistleblowing Act means that the person making the report may not be hindered or punished for the act of whistleblowing. To be covered by the protection, you are required to have access to the information about which you are reporting in a work-related context and to submit the report through an internal or external reporting channel. When submitting the report, you should have reasonable cause to believe that the information concerning the wrongdoing is true.
If you would like to know more about whistleblowing, there is an FAQ about enhanced protection for whistleblowers on the website of the Government Offices. (in Swedish)
To whom does the protection apply?
The whistleblowing function is available to those who work, have worked or may in the future work at Uppsala University. This means that the possibility of whistleblowing may extend to more people than under previous regulations, for example volunteers, trainees and employees.
To be protected by the Whistleblowing Act, you must be:
- Employed at Uppsala University
- Temporarily Employed
- Applying for work
- Applying for or carrying out a placement or voluntary work
- Self-employed and applying for or carrying out an assignment
- Someone who in some other way is available for carrying out, or who is carrying out, work under the supervision and management of a practitioner
- Someone who is available for involvement in, or who is involved in, the University’s administrative, management or supervisory bodies.
Protection continues to apply even after you have left Uppsala University.
When does the protection no longer apply?
There are a couple of cases where the Whistleblowing Act does not apply. For example:
- when the person reporting does so in the capacity of a student, patient or member of society.
- if the subject of your report is not of a general interest or does not represent a violation of applicable laws
- if the subject of your report only concerns your own work or employment conditions
- if you consciously report false information or become criminally liable by submitting a report
- if the subject of your report concerns classified information as defined by the Protective Security Act or information concerning national security
- if you report anonymously.
Prohibition against punishing a person who reports wrongdoings
A person who has reported an employer for wrongdoings must not be subjected to reprisals. This prohibition also applies to anyone who has complained about discrimination or reported an infringement of the Discrimination Act. Examples of reprisals by an employer include ordering an employee to work unreasonable overtime or giving a whistleblower a heavier workload or working duties for which they are overqualified. Anyone who is subjected to reprisals can complain to the Equality Ombudsman.
Public access to official documents and secrecy in the whistleblowing function
When a report or complaint is received by Uppsala University, it is registered and given a reference number. As Uppsala University is a public authority, your message may become an official document. This means that anyone has the right to request access to it.
However, a whistleblowing message may be classified as confidential. Uppsala University therefore always carries out a confidentiality assessment that may result in a decision not to disclose information that is covered by secrecy regulations. A decision not to disclose official documents can be appealed to a court of law.
With effect from 17 December 2021, a new provision in the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (Chapter 17, Section 3b and Chapter 32, Section 3b, SFS 2009:400) is intended to protect the identity of whistleblowers in the public sector. In some cases, secrecy also applies to information that could reveal the identity of an individual other than the person submitting the report. Secrecy applies to information that could reveal the identity of the person making the report in a follow-up case. The term ‘follow-up case’ refers, for example, to information revealed in a report about wrongdoings received via a whistleblowing function and information consisting of feedback to the person making the report.
Confidentiality and specific exceptions
If you have cause to blow the whistle, you may not be punished or held responsible for breaking a confidentiality clause. Exceptions to this include qualified confidentiality and confidentiality in connection with the Defence Inventions Act.
Protection in fundamental laws
Freedom of communication entails that an employee of a public authority can submit oral information for publication in mass media without risk of sanction. This is supported by the freedom of communication enshrined in the fundamental laws of Sweden, and applies independently of what is contained in the Whistleblowing Act. Freedom of communication also applies to a certain extent to classified information, but not to information held under ‘qualified’ secrecy.
Making a report
PLEASE NOTE: Whistleblowing is not intended as a remedy for wrongdoings associated with an individual’s own employment situation. You should raise this type of matter with your manager or centrally via the Human Resources Division.
You are expected to leave your name and contact details when making a report, but this is not a requirement. By contrast, protection when reporting wrongdoing in accordance with the Whistleblowing Act requires an identifiable person.
Your report will only be handled by a small number of authorised persons at Uppsala University. You will then receive feedback on the matter if you have opted against anonymity.
You can submit a whistleblowing report via an electronic form, paper post, physical meeting or telephone call.