Whistleblowing – if you suspect or have information about wrongdoings

If you suspect or have information about irregularities or wrongdoings, Umeå University would like you to report it – you should “blow the whistle”. No investigations or measures can be taken against wrongdoings until the University has been made aware of them.

 

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Sweden has a law protecting those who report wrongdoings and irregularities. This law is referred to as the Whistleblowing Act. The act came into force on 17 December 2021 and means that

  • you may not be prevented from or punished for reporting wrongdoings,
  • you may sometimes circumvent confidentiality obligations,
  • further people and job roles may now report wrongdoings.

The Whistleblowing Act also sets requirements on government agencies, such as Umeå University, to ensure that staff can blow the whistle and that whistleblowers' personal data is protected.

How to report wrongdoings

Reporting can be done in two ways:

1. By regular post

Send the letter to:
Umeå University
Whistleblowing function
SE-901 87 Umeå

Label the envelope with "Visselblåsning". This ensures that your letter is processed and registered correctly.

Please also state in the letter if you wish to receive confirmation of receipt from Umeå University. For this purpose, please state your phone number or residential address. Asking for confirmation also means that you will be informed of what the investigation of your report has led to.

If you have stated that you wish to receive confirmation of receipt, you should receive confirmation within seven working days.

2. By phone or in person

Contact us by regular post. In the letter, specify how you would like to come in contact with Umeå University and on what telephone number or postal address we can contact you. We will contact you with a proposed time for a phone call or meeting.

Send the letter to:
Umeå University
Whistleblowing function
SE-901 87 Umeå

Label the envelope with "Visselblåsning". This ensures that your letter is processed and registered correctly.

Your personal data are protected by confidentiality. Umeå University cannot use email for information that needs to be kept confidential. For this reason, we cannot receive whistleblowing reports by email.

What does my report need to contain?

  • Describe as clearly as possible your suspicions or information.
  • Describe who the information involves.
  • If you have documents, photos or emails, please attach these to the report.
  • State if there is anyone else who can contribute with information and add their contact details.

Can I be anonymous?

If you do not state your name, your report will not be counted as whistleblowing according to the law. Please note that when you file a report, your name will be protected by confidentiality. Only authorised case officers bound to professional secrecy have access to your name.

Your personal data are protected by confidentiality

When a report is made under the Whistleblowing Act, the regulations found in the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (2009:400) apply. The regulations mean that confidentiality applies to all data that can reveal the identity of a person reporting wrongdoings. In certain cases, confidentiality also applies to data that can reveal the identity of another individual other than the person who filed the report.

What happens after I report?

An authorised case officer will receive your report and start the investigation. The case officer may need to contact you during the investigation if deemed necessary.

The investigation may lead to the conclusion that no further actions are necessary, and the case will be closed. Alternatively, the investigation may need to be submitted to another function of the University or another government agency for further investigation or further actions.

If you have chosen to receive confirmation of Umeå University having received your report, you will be informed about the conclusions of the investigation within three months. This information will describe the investigation and what conclusions have been drawn, to a reasonable extent.

If information is proven faulty

If you had "reasonable cause" to assume that the information you reported was true, you may still be covered by the legal protection of the Whistleblowing Act even if the information was inaccurate.

However, a person who has purposely and consciously reported incorrect or deceiving information is not protected under the act. Anyone who purposely and consciously reports incorrect information may also be penalised according to various regulations.

The Whistleblowing Act applies on two occasions

  1. If you have information about wrongdoings at Umeå University that have a negative impact on the general public, i.e., public interest; or
  2. If you suspect that Umeå University is violating certain laws or regulations.

Wrongdoings of public interest

When more often wrongdoings occur, or if irregularities take place systematically, the more it is of public interest. The Whistleblowing Act does not apply for information regarding your own work or employment.

Suspecting that Umeå University violates the law

The Whistleblowing Act applies if you suspect that Umeå University violates EU regulations in the following fields: public procurement, financial services, products and markets, the prevention of money-laundering and funding of terrorism, product safety and product conformity, transport safety, environmental protection, radiation protection and nuclear safety, food and animal feed safety, animal health and well-being, public health, consumer protection, protection of privacy and personal data, and security in network and information systems.

Who is covered by the Whistleblowing Act?

To be protected by the Whistleblowing Act, you need to be an employee or be

  • applying for a job,
  • applying for or undertaking internship or voluntary work,
  • self-employed applying for or conducting work,
  • rented labour, or
  • a member of an administrative, managerial or supervisory body at the University.

The protection also applies after you have left Umeå University.

Sometimes the Whistleblowing Act does not apply

The Whistleblowing Act does not apply if

  • a whistleblower files a report in their role as a student, patient or citizen,
  • what you are reporting is not of public interest or does not constitute a crime against the regulations referred to,
  • what you are reporting only concerns your own work or employment situation and it does not involve corruption,
  • you deliberately report false information or commit an offence by making a report,
  • what you are reporting concerns security-protected information pursuant to the Protective Security Act, or information affecting national security, or
  • you are filing a report anonymously.

Your protection as a whistleblower

The Whistleblowing Act means that you may not be prevented from or punished for reporting wrongdoings, that you may sometimes circumvent confidentiality obligations, that you may not be punished for procuring information about individuals that concerns your whistleblowing, and that you have no right to disclose documents and data.

If colleagues expose you to victimisation, there are special procedures in place for how to handle such situations at the University, for instance work environment regulations.
Read more about victimisation.

Professional secrecy and certain exceptions

If you have reason to report wrongdoings, you may not be punished or be held responsible for breaching confidentiality. However, this does not apply to the duty of confidentiality regarding military defence inventions or classified information pursuant to the Protective Security Act.

Protection for whistleblowers under other laws

Freedom to communicate information

Freedom to communicate information means that all employees of a government agency may share information with the media to be published without the risk of punishment. To a certain degree, this also covers confidential information. However, freedom to communicate information does not apply regarding confidentiality to protect national security. Freedom to communicate information means that no one may inquire into the source of the information.

This freedom does not provide the right to disclose documents containing confidential data.

Freedom to procure information

Freedom to procure information provides the right to procure information with the purpose of publication, according to the Freedom of the Press Act (1949:105) and the Law on Freedom of Expression (1991:1469). Freedom to procure information can be seen as an extension to the freedom to communicate information.

Ban on inquiries

A government agency or other public body may not inquire into the identity of a person who has provided information under the freedom to communicate information. A person who has received information intended for publishing has a confidentiality obligation regarding the identity of the reporter.

Maja Wik
5/16/2022