Guidelines for whistleblowing at the University of Bergen

Adopted by the University Board 19.02.2009.

Revised 28.01.2020

Introduction

In a good working environment, there is a low threshold for presenting unbiased and constructive criticism. It is therefore important that employees of the University of Bergen feel confident that they can express themselves regarding problematic circumstances in the organization and that these will be handled and followed up in a good way. The guidelines for reporting censurable conditions are intended to encourage an open culture characterized by good internal communication.

1) Purpose

The guidelines have been drawn up to facilitate internal whistleblowing in accordance with Section 2 A-6 of the Norwegian Working Environment Act . In addition, the guidelines are intended to clarify procedures, obligations and rights in connection with whistleblowing.

It is an objective that the working environment at UiB should be characterised by transparency and good internal communication. The whistleblowing guidelines are intended to uncover or prevent censurable conditions at UiB. It is desirable, and in the best interests of the organization,that UiB's employees make use of their right to blow the whistle on censurable conditions.

2) Scope

The guidelines apply to anyone who performs work for UiB, including temporary employees hired from employment agencies. Other groups, such as students and persons in labour market training, are considered as employees when they perform work for UiB, cf. Section 1-6 (1) of the Working Environment Act.

The guidelines are applicable in cases where the employee blows the whistle according to the duty of notification in Section 2-3 of the Working Environment Act, or the notification provision in Section 2 A-1 of the Working Environment Act.

Students' complaints concerning the learning environment are handled in accordance with Section 4-3 of the University and University Colleges Act.

3) Duty of notification – Section 2-3 of the Working Environment Act

Employees are obliged to notify the employer of conditions in the workplace that relate to errors or deficiencies that entail danger to life or health, or if someone is injured or incurs illness that the employee believes is a result of conditions in the workplace, cf. Working Environment Act Section 2-3 no. 2, b) and e). The notification shall be given in accordance with Guidelines for notification and follow-up of health, safety and environment deviations as soon as the employee has become aware of the circumstance.

Notification of harassment or discrimination in the workplace shall be given in accordance with the guidelines for whistleblowing, as soon as the employee becomes aware of the circumstance, cf. Working Environment Act Section 2-3 no. 2, d).

State employees have an obligation to notify their employer concerning circumstances that they become aware of and which may inflict loss or damage on the employer, employees or the environment so that measures can be initiated with a view to avoiding or limiting the loss or damage, cf. The Code of Conduct for the Civil Service section 2.2.

The safety representative has a special duty of notification under Section 6-2 (3) of the Working Environment Act.

4) Right to blow the whistle - censurable conditions

Employees have the right to blow the whistle on censurable conditions in the organization. Censurable conditions means conditions that are in conflict with the rule of law, written code of conduct or ethical norms to which there is a broad acceptance in society, such as circumstances that may involve

a) danger to life or health

b) danger to climate or the environment

c) corruption or other economic crime

d) abuse of authority

e) irresponsible working environment

f) breach of personal data security.

Statements on circumstances concerning only the employee's own working conditions are not considered as whistleblowing, unless the circumstance is covered by the points mentioned above.

5) Procedure for whistleblowing of censurable conditions

5.1) Internal notification

Censurable conditions should be notified to a responsible person in the organization. A responsible person means a representative of the management who has influence or the right to make decisions concerning the issues raised by the whistleblowing. The immediate line manager or another senior manager can be notified. The notification is considered to have been received by UiB as the employer when the notification has been given to such a recipient.

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

It is always prudent to notify in accordance with the duty of notification or UiB's guidelines.

Internal notification is not considered as prudent if the censurable conditions are taken up in an inappropriate manner that unnecessarily harms the co-operation climate, the working environment or individuals in the organization, for example by repeated baseless allegations aimed at colleagues.

The notification may be submitted in writing or orally, by phone or email or in person. The notification should include the full name, the whistleblower’s place of work and the conditions to which the notification applies and should be as exhaustive as possible to ensure the best possible follow-up.

Anonymous notification is allowed.

5.2) External whistleblowing

The employee can always notify externally to a public supervisory authority or other public authority.

When notifying the media or the public in general, stricter requirements are placed on the whistleblower and the procedure. Such whistleblowing can be made if

a) the employee is in good faith concerning the contents of the notification,

b) the notification relates to censurable conditions that are of public interest, and

c) the employee has first blown the whistle internally, or has reason to believe that internal whistleblowing will not be appropriate.

Confidentiality requirements may limit the right to notify externally, cf. Section 13 of the Public Administration Act.

5.3) Burden of proof for proper procedure

The employer has the burden of proof that notification has been made in breach of this provision.

6) Administrative procedure for whistleblowing of censurable conditions

The recipient of the notification must consider at what organizational level the case should be dealt with and should, if necessary, pass the case on. The recipient must assess his or her impartiality when processing the case further.

The notification recipient is obliged to record a notification journal. Recording of the notification journal is important for later documentation and for ensuring a good follow-up of the notification. The content of the notification should be recorded in the notification journal and subsequent events and conversations in the case should be documented, see notification journal form templates.

Everyone has a duty to comply with the following general principles for handling whistleblowing cases, cf. Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation’s guidelines for the preparation of local notification procedures in the Norwegian State;

- all enquiries should be taken seriously

- all enquiries should be addressed immediately

- it should be ensured that the case is as well informed as possible

- anonymous sources can be worth as much as open sources

- the different whistleblowing methods should be valued equally

- confidential processing

- the whistleblowing system should be able to be used without fear of consequences

- notifications should receive confirmation that they have been received as soon as possible and within no more than 14 days.

- the whistleblower should be notified of the outcome of the notification.

The recipient of the notification must ensure that consideration is given to the whistleblower, see section 7 for more detail.

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

7) Consideration to the whistleblower

The employer shall ensure in particular that the person who has blown the whistle has a fully satisfactory working environment. If necessary, the employer shall provide measures suitable for the prevention of retaliation.

Retaliation against an employee who blows the whistle in accordance with the guidelines is prohibited. Retaliation means any detrimental action, practice or omission resulting from, or as a reaction to, the employee's whistleblowing, such as

a) threats, harassment, unprofessional discrimination, social exclusion or other improper conduct

b) warning, change in work duties, reassignment or downgrading

c) suspension, dismissal, summary discharge,or disciplinary sanctions.

8) Consideration to the person subject to whistleblowing

If the employer decides to pursue a notified case, the person about whom the notification has been received should be informed of the notification in the first instance and what information has been provided, so that the person in question has the opportunity to present their version of the case. Reservations are made for cases where, in consideration for the further administrative procedure, it is important that the person about whom the notification has been made is informed of the notification.

The identity of the whistleblower should not be disclosed to the person about whom the notification has been made. If the person about whom the notification has been made requests access to information about the case pursuant to the rules of the Public Administration Act, the person in question is as a general rule entitled to be informed of the identity of the whistleblower, however see section 9 regarding confidentiality requirements for notifications to UiB as a public authority.

When the case has been processed, the person about whom the notification has been made must be informed immediately, regardless of the outcome.

9) Notification to the University of Bergen as a public authority

When notifying UiB as a public authority, the employee's name or other identifying information about the employee is subject to a duty of confidentiality, cf.Section 2 A-7 of the Working Environment Act.

The duty of confidentiality also applies to the parties to the case and their representatives.

Links to more information about whistleblowing:

The Working Environment Act

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation’s guidelines (in Norwegian only)

Ethical guidelines for the public service

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
Thursday 14 May 2020 2:11:20 pm Oversettelse til engelsk Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Monday 09 March 2020 9:46:24 pm Oppdatert ihht nye regler Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Monday 09 March 2020 9:38:16 pm Oppdatert ihht nye regler Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Monday 09 March 2020 3:25:49 pm Oppdatert ihht nye regler Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
Wednesday 17 January 2018 10:06:35 am Oppdatert ihht nye regler Kathrine Brosvik Thorsen
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
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