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KTH has a new whistleblower function

Two smiling women look into the camera.
Together with other colleagues in a dedicated working group, Maria Palma-Hakim and Maria Östman have set up the whistleblower function. Photo: Theresia Köhlin
Published Sep 16, 2022

As of July, KTH has an internal whistleblowing system in place – a reporting channel for KTH staff to report internal irregularities to. “It gives our organisation the security to raise serious concerns of maladministration within KTH,” says Maria Palma-Hakim, who has worked with this reporting system.

The so-called Whistleblowing Act came into force on 17 December 2021. As of 17 July 2022, public sector employers with more than 50 employees and private sector employers with more than 250 employees are obliged to have internal whistleblowing systems in place. At KTH, Maria Östman , Deputy Financial Manager and Maria Palma-Hakim , Administrative Law Manager, have both been working on setting up the new whistleblowing system.

“Put simply, it’s there to protect anyone reporting serious concerns connected to their work, without fear of negative consequences,” says Maria Palma-Hakim.

“Now KTH has created a whistleblowing channel you can report your concerns to, with a designated group of authorised people who manage these reports, to keep the information confidential. These people have a wide range of experience in a number of relevant fields – everything from HR and IT security to procurement and finance – so that each report is managed correctly,” says Maria Östman.

Previously, there was constitutional protection for the public sector. Now, the new whistleblowing law signifies increased protection for people reporting irregularities in the workplace that are in the public interest or contrary to certain EU laws. One difference from before is that the new legislation encompasses more groups of people. In addition to employees, other groups that are allowed to raise the alarm and still be protected are former employees, job applicants, interns, consultants and voluntary staff.

“As an employer and for KTH as an organisation, it’s really great that these issues are raised and that there’s a clear process to manage reports and follow up upon them. It provides our operations with security.”

What type of cases should be reported as whistleblowing concerns?
“It’s about reporting severe irregularities, where there’s a public interest in the issues being raised. It could concern matters that are illegal, unethical or inappropriate in some way. For example, someone may have misused public funds, but also conflict of interest cases, procurement offences, human rights offences or environmental offences,” says Maria Palma-Hakim.

“Once it’s established as a whistleblowing issue and not something else, then there is a clear procedure as to how reports should be managed. Of course, each report is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, according to what it’s about,” says Maria Östman.

Who can file a report?
“Anyone working at KTH in some capacity, either as an employee or a consultant, and who has encountered serious misconduct in their working relationship with KTH. Students and the general public can turn to external channels if they need to file a report.”

Can I be anonymous?
“KTH has chosen not to enable anonymous reports. The whistleblowing legislation doesn’t really provide the scope for anonymity. The whole legislation is built to protect those reporting, so anonymity shouldn’t be needed. However, we’ve done everything we can to protect whistleblowers’ information security, so that only authorised parties can access it. Other people may be involved during later stages of an investigation – regarding specific questions – but they won’t have access to a whistleblower’s identity.”

Find out more about the whistleblowing legislation . (In Swedish)

Text: Annelie Englund

What can you report as a whistleblowing issue?

Wrongdoings that go against Swedish law or EU law (within the framework of the Whistleblowing Directive), such as:

  • Financial offences such as corruption and bribery.
  • Fraud and theft.
  • Public procurement offences.
  • Serious professional misconduct.
  • Abuse of power by a person in management.
  • Where someone has benefited personally, thanks to their professional position or when someone close to them has benefited in some way.
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Last changed: Sep 16, 2022