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Higher education institutions must provide reporting channels for whistleblowers

New whistleblower legislation came into force in December. What will be the difference?

Linus Hellerstedt
The requirement for internal reporting channels is mandatory and is being introduced gradually.

“State sector employers and privately owned companies with more than 50 employees must set up a special internal channel for the reporting of irregularities. This will be the visible difference for SULF’s members after the Protection of Persons who Report Misconduct Act, or the Whistleblower Act, has now entered into force,” says Carolina Öhrn, Head of Legal Affairs at SULF.
“Many companies already have this kind of reporting channel. Now higher education institutions will also need it them.”

Carolina Öhrn, SULF
Carolina Öhrn

Mandatory reporting channels
The requirement for internal reporting channels is mandatory and is being introduced gradually from 17 December, when the law came into force. For state sector employers, these reporting channels must be in place no later than mid-July 2022.

The new whistleblower legislation is based on an EU directive, and in order for it to be applicable, what is reported must be in the public interest. The previous legislation applied to serious misconduct where the penalty scale for the suspected crime had to include imprisonment in order for the person reporting to be entitled to whistleblower protection. This requirement has now been removed.

Protection of sources still applies
Freedom of information and protection of sources already applies at Swedish universities and colleges. This means that employees may provide information to a journalist without risk of reprisals, and that it is illegal for the employer to investigate who has provided such information.
“This remains unchanged, and it actually provides stronger protection for those who report irregularities or misconduct than the new whistleblower legislation,” says Öhrn.

“As an individual, you can’t really know in advance whether this whistleblower protection is applicable because it can be difficult to determine whether something is in the public interest or not before revealing it.”

She also points out that work environment and labour legislation is not affected by the new Whistleblower Act.

Linus Hellerstedt

In brief: The new Whistleblower Act

Channels for reporting irregularities and misconduct must be put in place. Confidentiality applies to the identity of whistleblowers.


The law is applicable when the matter that the employee reports is deemed to be in the public interest. Previously, there was a requirement that the matter involved a crime that could lead to imprisonment.


The new legislation came into force on 17 December. Higher education institutions have until 17 July to set up internal reporting channels.

Universitetsläraren conforms strictly to journalistic principles and follows the media industry’s rules on publication and professional ethics. The magazine is free and independent of its owner, SULF – the Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers.
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