Whistleblowing can be used to report serious financial crime, corruption, bribery and serious forms of discrimination and harassment. It can also be used to report environmental crimes or irregularities that concern life and health.
A whistleblowing service plays an important role for Region Västra Götaland and The Göteborg Opera. The service enables people who are in a working relationship with the Göteborg Opera to easily report any suspicions of misconduct and irregularities in work-related contexts.
When should the service be used?
There are two types of reporting: public interest reporting and ‘EU reporting’.
1) Public interest reporting requires that:
- The misconduct arose in a work-related context
- There is a public interest in the information being obtained and addressed
- The misconduct is serious
Reporting relating solely to your own working or employment relationships is generally not in the public interest.
The more frequent and systematic the misconduct, the greater the public interest in it being remedied or stopped. This generally applies all areas, and may regard, for example, serious irregularities and misconduct such as financial crime, corruption, environmental crime, danger to life and health, as well as forms of discrimination and harassment.
2) ‘EU reporting’ requires that:
- The misconduct arose in a work-related context
- The information is in violation of certain Union legal acts mentioned in the Annex to the Whistleblower Directive. This regards, for example, provisions in the areas of public procurement, public health and the protection of privacy and the processing of personal data.
What is meant by public interest
In order for something to be in the public interest:
- it must pertain to serious circumstances
- concern a group that can be defined as the general public
- there is a legitimate interest in the misconduct coming to light
This can, for example, apply to common and systematic misconduct that there is a public interest in remedying or stopping. The misconduct does not have to be current or ongoing. The report can also regard misconduct that has run its course and is no longer occurring. However, it does not normally include matters that only regard the whistleblower’s own working or employment conditions.
Who can make a whistleblowing report?
The internal reporting channel can be used by persons operating within the company such as workers, voluntary workers, trainees, agency workers, self-employed persons and members of administrative, management and supervisory bodies.
When should the function not be used?
General complaints or dissatisfaction with working conditions, the organisation and management, minor irregularities or conflicts in the workplace are not covered by the Whistleblowing Act, so such issues will be handled in the same way as before. Neither does the Act apply to the reporting of classified information under the Protective Security Act (2018:5858). The whistleblower may not breach qualified professional secrecy or disclose documents containing confidential information.
How to whistleblow
A whistleblowing report should be submitted via the online service WhistleB.
The service can be accessed via this link: https://report.whistleb.com/en/vgregion
WhistleB ensures that the whistleblower can remain anonymous in communications with the employer. The service is completely disconnected from the employer’s IT systems and web services. WhistleB does not save IP addresses or other data that can be linked to the whistleblower. For this reason, it is not possible to trace anonymous whistleblowers. All reports are highly encrypted and can only be decrypted by designated individuals. WhistleB cannot decrypt and read reports.
If whistleblowing is done anonymously, none of the whistleblower’s personal data is processed in the whistleblowing service. If specific individuals are mentioned in the report, it is important to only provide information that is relevant to the report.
Personal data provided in the whistleblowing service are processed to investigate and prosecute misconduct, work duties of public interest, and to:
fulfil the legal obligation to register and store public
6.1 c (European General Data Protection Regulation, Art. 6(1)(c) and (e)).
The data controller is the Regional Executive Board of Region Västra Götaland.
Read more about how VGR processes personal data (in Swedish)
How are the reports processed?
When a whistleblowing report is received by the external WhistleB service, a processing unit at the Security and Preparedness Unit (ESB) is notified of this. ESB contacts the whistleblower via WhistleB and makes an initial assessment of the case.
The whistleblower receives confirmation within seven days after the report is received. If the reporting is not covered by the Whistleblowing Act, the processing unit may assess that a follow-up case will not be started. If this happens, the whistleblower will be informed of it and, if appropriate, be provided with information on how to proceed further.
For follow-up cases that are deemed to be covered by the Whistleblowing Act, ESB will submit a proposed assessment to a decision-making working group.
Decision-making working group
The decision-making working group at the Göteborg Opera is appointed by our Board of Directors and is comprised of the CEO, the HR Manager and a lawyer. The working group takes a decision after the case has been presented by the handling unit and follows up on the measures that need to be taken.
If necessary, experts in relevant fields may be contacted in a follow-up case.
Only persons who have been designated as described above shall have access to the personal data processed in a follow-up case.
If someone in the decision-making working group is affected or involved in a report or if the report concerns a member of the company’s board of directors (with the exception of employee representatives), the processing unit must instead report to the owner representative appointed by the regional council, who will decide on further investigation through an external party as well as on any measures to be taken.
Protection for whistleblowers
Regardless of the type of investigation, the whistleblower is protected against reprisal and obstructive measures.
This protection also applies to persons assisting the whistleblower in the reporting, such as a union representative or safety representative. The protection also applies to persons with links to the whistleblower, such as a relatives or colleagues.
All reports received are considered public documents. If the case is deemed to be covered by the Whistleblowing Act, confidentiality applies to the identity of the whistleblower and, to a certain extent, to information regarding other persons mentioned in the case. This means that a document can be requested, but a confidentiality assessment must be performed before the document can be disclosed. The provisions on confidentiality are set out in Chapter 17, Section 3 b and Chapter 32 Section 3 b of the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (2009:400).
The Whistleblowing Act does not restrict constitutionally protected informer protection for persons involved in publication in so-called privileged media. Informer protection also includes protection from investigation and reprisal from the public.
Other whistleblowing services
Under current whistleblowing laws, it must be possible to report via so-called external channels, in addition to an organisation’s internal channels. Different authorities have different areas of responsibility and are required to make their own reporting channels available for this purpose.
The Government has also decided to appoint the Swedish Work Environment Authority as a special competent authority. This means that the Swedish Work Environment Authority is required to handle reports that are not covered by any other competent authority’s area of responsibility. The Swedish Work Environment Authority is also the supervisory authority for ensuring that employers meet the legal requirements to establish internal whistleblowing functions under the Whistleblowing Act.
For more information, see the Swedish Work Environment Authority: https://www.av.se/om-oss/visselblasarlagen/ (in Swedish)
If you have questions or need guidance on whistleblowing, you can contact the Security and Preparedness Unit via: firstname.lastname@example.org