GUIDELINES FOR NOTIFICATION (WHISTLEBLOWING) AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BERGEN

Introduction

In a good working environment, it should not be difficult to make reasonable and constructive criticism. It is important, therefore, that UiB staff feel secure about raising difficult matters relating to the organisation and that they are handled and followed up in an adequate manner. The guidelines for notification about censurable matters aim to foster an open culture characterised by good internal communication.

1) Purpose

The guidelines have been drawn up in order to facilitate internal notification in accordance with the Working Environment Act section 3-6. In addition, the guidelines are also intended to clarify the procedure to be followed and the rights and duties of UiB staff in connection with such notification.

It is a goal that the working environment at UiB should be characterised by openness and good internal communication. The guidelines for notification are intended to uncover or prevent misconduct and censurable matters at UiB.

2) Scope

The guidelines apply to everyone employed by UiB.

The guidelines are applicable in cases in which an employee notifies in accordance with the notification duty in the Working Environment Act section 2-3, or the notification provision in the Working Environment Act section 2-4.

Notification about matters that are of internal or personal interest alone, for example internal conflicts between personnel in which the employee can be deemed to be a party to the conflict, should be dealt with in accordance with UiB’s guidelines for conflict management (in Norwegian only).

Complaints from students about the learning environment should be dealt with in accordance with the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges section 4-3.

3) Notification duty – the Working Environment Act section 2-3

Employees have a duty to notify their employer about matters in the workplace if they discover faults or defects that entail a risk to life and health or if anyone is injured or contracts an illness that the employee believes is due to factors in the workplace, cf. the Working Environment Act section 2-3 subsection 2 b) and e). Notification shall be given in accordance with the Guidelines for notification of non-conformities, accidents and near-misses as soon as the employee has become aware of the matter.

Notification about harassment or discrimination in the workplace shall be given in accordance with the guidelines for notification as soon as the employee becomes aware of the matter, cf. the Working Environment Act section 2-3 subsection 2 d).

Civil servants have a duty to report to their employers about matters they become aware of and that may cause loss or damage to their employers, employees or their surroundings, so that measures can be initiated with a view to preventing or limiting the loss or damage, cf. Ethical guidelines for the public service, section 2.2.

Safety delegates have a particular notification duty pursuant to the Working Environment Act section 6-2 (3).

Form for notification of non-conformities, accidents and near-misses

5) Right to notify – censurable matters

UiB employees have a right to notify about censurable matters in the organisation. By censurable matters is meant, firstly, information about criminal offences and breaches of other statutory obligations or prohibitions. Moreover, it refers to breaches of UiB’s ethical guidelines (in Norwegian only), research ethics (in Norwegian only) and general ethical standards that enjoy broad support in society as a whole.

When considering what should be deemed to be censurable matters, emphasis should be placed on matters of public interest. Matters that an employee deems to be censurable on the basis of his or her own political or ethical convictions are thus not covered by the provision, cf. the Working Environment Act section 2-4.

5) Procedure for internal notification about censurable matters

Notification about censurable matters shall be given to a responsible person in the organisation. By responsible is meant a representative of management who has the authority to influence or decide the matters raised in the notification. Notification can be given to the employee’s immediate superior or to another superior. A safety delegate can also be notified. The notification is deemed to have been received by UiB when such a recipient has been notified.

Notification can be given in writing or orally, by phone or e-mail or in person.

The notification should contain the notifier’s full name and place of service and what matters the notification concerns, and it should be as exhaustive as possible in order to ensure the best possible follow-up.

Anonymous notification is permitted.

Notification can be given indirectly to a recipient via a colleague, employee representative, lawyer or similar.

6) Requirement that the procedure for notification must be justifiable

The manner in which notification is given must be justifiable. It is always justifiable to notify in accordance with UiB’s guidelines.

The employee must have an objective and justifiable basis for the criticism and the manner in which notification is given must be reasonable.

Internal notification is not deemed to be justifiable if the censurable matters are raised in an unwarranted manner that is unnecessarily harmful to the climate of cooperation, the working environment or individuals in the organisation, for example repeated unfounded allegations against colleagues.

7) Processing of internal notifications about censurable matters

The recipient of the notification must assess at which organisational level the matter should be dealt with and, if necessary, forward the matter.

The recipient is obliged to keep a notification record. The notification record is important in connection with subsequent documentation and in order to ensure good follow-up of the notification. In the notification record, the contents of the notification must be noted, and subsequent events and conversations relating to the case must be documented, see the template for notification records.

Everyone is obliged to comply with the following general principles for the handling of notification cases, cf. the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform’s guidelines for drawing up local notification procedures in the government administration;

- all notifications must be taken seriously

- all notifications must be dealt with immediately

- steps must be taken to ensure that the matter is investigated as thoroughly as possible

- anonymous sources may be as valuable as open sources

- the different methods of notification shall be treated on an equal footing

- confidential processing

- it must be possible to use the notification system without fear of the consequences

- the notifier shall receive feedback within a reasonable period that the notification has been received

- the notifier shall be informed about the outcome of the notification

If follow-up of the notification entails the processing of personal data pursuant to the Personal Data Act, the recipient of the notification will be responsible for ensuring that personal data and sensitive personal data are dealt with in the lawful/prescribed manner.

Retaliation against an employee who notifies in accordance with section 2-4 is prohibited, cf. the Working Environment Act section 2-5.

8) External notification

External notification is notification to a supervisory authority or other authority or notification of the general public. If internal notification is deemed to be inexpedient, it is always deemed to be justifiable to notify a supervisory authority or other public authority, cf. the Working Environment Act section 2-4.

In the case of notification of the general public, the justifiability requirement is more stringent. Firstly, it is a requirement that there is a reasonable basis for the utterance. By this is meant that the employee must be in good faith with respect to the actual existence of censurable matters. Emphasis is also placed on whether internal notification has been tried first and whether the matters raised are of public interest.

A duty of secrecy may limit the right to notify, cf. the Public Administration Act section 13.

9) Consideration for the person whom the notification concerns

If the employer decides to pursue a notification, the person whom the notification concerns shall, in principle, be informed about the notification and the information provided, so that the person in question has an opportunity to present his or her version of the matter. An exception can be made in cases where, out of consideration for the further handling of the matter, it is important that the person whom the notification concerns is not informed about the notification.

The identity of the notifier shall, in principle, not be made known to the person whom the notification concerns. If the person whom the notification concerns requests access to information pursuant to the provisions of the Public Administration Act, he or she will as a rule be entitled to be informed about the identity of the notifier.

When the processing of a case is completed, the person mentioned in the notification shall be informed immediately, regardless of the outcome.

Links to more information about notification:

The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform’s guidelines (in Norwegian only)

The preparatory works to the Working Environment Act’s provisions on notification (in Norwegian only)

Ethical guidelines for the public service (in Norwegian only)

The Labour Inspection Authority’s guidelines on notification rules (in Norwegian only)

The Data Inspectorate’s guidelines concerning notification in the workplace (in Norwegian only)

Show revision history
Date Comment Entered by
Wednesday 13 December 2017 3:18:49 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Tuesday 17 September 2013 2:08:06 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Thursday 07 April 2011 1:13:21 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Thursday 07 April 2011 12:56:41 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Thursday 07 April 2011 12:51:26 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Wednesday 02 February 2011 12:43:45 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Monday 10 May 2010 9:49:30 am Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Wednesday 10 March 2010 2:10:51 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Tuesday 09 March 2010 3:17:28 pm Lagt inn Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Logo for Universitetet i Bergen

©2009 Universitetet i Bergen

Adresse: Postboks 7800 5020 Bergen

Besøksadresse: Nygårdsgaten 5

Telefon: (+47) 55584201 Faks: (+47) 55548299