Procedures for reporting censurable conditions at UiO
The University of Oslo shall ensure a secure working and learning environment in accordance with the Norwegian Working Environment Act and the Norwegian University and University Colleges Act. The right to blow the whistle will help to both uncover censurable conditions and behaviour and prevent further incidents from occurring. UiO encourages employees and students to speak up about censurable conditions and behaviour.
The reporting procedures describe how to report censurable conditions and behaviour, who should receive such reports and how UiO should deal with them.
2 What does reporting involve?
To report means to speak up about censurable conditions and behaviour at the University of Oslo, i.e. circumstances that are in conflict with rules or ethical guidelines as well as ethical norms broadly accepted in society. For example, this may be:
- danger to life or health
- danger to the climate or the environment
- corruption or other economic crime
- abuse of authority
- unjustifiable learning or working environment
- Bullying, discrimination, threats, violence, abuse or other forms of harassment
- breach of personal data security
This list is not exhaustive. See also UiO's guidelines against harassment.
3 What is not considered as reporting?
The reporting rules do not cover circumstances that employees or students believe are worthy of criticism solely on the basis of their own political or ethical beliefs.
Disagreements about decisions relating to budget allocations, appointments, academic priorities or decisions pursuant to the law and regulations are not considered to constitute reporting censurable conditions.
The reporting rules do not apply to employees' own conditions of work, such as personnel conflicts, unless the circumstance is covered by section 2.
4 Who has the right to report?
Employees, PhD candidates and students at UiO can report in line with these reporting procedures. For everyone else, the reporting procedures apply as far as they are relevant.
5 Reporting obligation for employees
Employees are obliged to report censurable conditions pursuant to Section 2-3 of the Norwegian Working Environment Act (lovdata-no) (Norwegian) as soon as they become aware of
- faults or defects which could result in danger to life or health.
- harassment (bullying) and discrimination at UiO.
- colleagues or students who become injured or sick as a result of circumstances at UiO.
6 Reporting obligation for safety representatives
Safety representatives have a special obligation to blow the whistle pursuant to Section 6-2 of the Norwegian Working Environment Act (lovdata.no) (Norwegian). Safety representatives have a duty of confidentiality regarding personal circumstances, but the duty of confidentiality is set aside if it is necessary to inform affected employees or the employer of the risk of an accident or danger to health at UiO.
Employees and PhD candidates employed by UiO can report:
- verbally or in writing to their immediate manager or senior manager
- in writing by using the reporting procedures for employees
Students and PhD candidates who are not employed by UiO can report:
- verbally or in writing to their learning environment contact at the Faculty
- in writing via the Speak up system for students
Employees and PhD candidates may also report via their safety representative, employee representative, Internal Auditing Unit (EIR) or their own adviser (lawyer or similar). Students may also report via the Ombud for students or their own adviser (lawyer or similar).
It is possible to report anonymously. This means that the reporter's identity is not known to the person receiving the notification. If the reporting relates to an accusation against employees or students at the University of Oslo, the reporter should be informed that an anonymous case allows for a limited possibility of follow-up. If it is of significance to the case, the reporter should be encouraged to identify him-/herself.
Reporting to public supervisory or regulatory authorities
Employees, PhD candidates and students can always report to a public supervisory authority or other public authority.
Examples of supervisory authorities:
- The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority
- The Norwegian Data Protection Authority
- The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision
- The Norwegian Environment Directorate
Reporting to the general public
Employees and students may report externally to the media or the public in general if
- the reporter is in genuine good faith about the content of the reported conditions and
- the reporting relates to censurable conditions that are of public interest.
The reporter should first have attempted to report internally, or have reason to believe that internal reporting would not be appropriate.
8 What should the report contain?
The report must contain information about what the case concerns and who may be involved. In addition, it should contain:
- The reporter's name and contact information.
- To which faculty or equivalent unit the individual in question belongs.
- Description of the censurable condition or behaviour.
- Time and place of the censurable condition or behaviour, as well as the names of any witnesses.
- Who has already been made aware of the circumstance.
- Relevant documentation, such as emails, SMS, letters or the like.
Persons responsible for processing reports of censurable conditions at UiO are:
- The Dean of the Faculty in question
- The University Director of Management and Support Units (LOS) and the Centre directly subordinated to the University Board.
- The Director of the museum in question
- The Library Director
The Deans have delegated follow-up of reports from students to the Faculty's Speak up reception.
Whoever is responsible for processing reports of censurable conditions can delegate the follow-up of the report to another human resources manager, and local HR should be contacted for assistance in the case of local processing. The follow-up of reports cannot be delegated to managers who are below level 3.
- If the case officer or the responsible manager is disqualified, the case should be processed by the parent unit, by an alternative faculty or outside the line, depending on the type of case.
- It must be avoided that students who report censurable conditions are academically assessed by employees who are considered to be a party to the case, regardless of the conclusion of the case.
10 Who receives and assesses the report?
Reports from employees and students via a web form have different recipients:
- Reports from employees go to the Internal Auditing Unit (EIR). In consultation with the Department of Personnel Support, EIR establishes a reporting council that decides who should process the case.
- Reports from students goes to the Faculty's Speak up reception, which processes the case and determines who should be involved. EIR receives a copy of reports from students.
- If a report from a student contains serious allegations about an employee, the Speak up reception should contact EIR, which assesses the need for a reporting council in line with point a.
- If an employee's report contains allegations about a student, the Speak up reception should be involved.
Upon receipt of a verbal or written report outside of the web form, the responsible manager or the Speak up reception should determine further follow-up of the case in accordance with section 9.
- EIR must have a copy of all employee and student reports.
- In the event of danger to life and health or serious punishable offences, the University Director must be informed.
- In the event of serious allegations directed at employees, the Department of Personnel Support must be informed.
- In the event of serious allegations directed at students, the Speak up reception at the relevant faculty must be informed.
11 Prohibition against retaliation
Retaliation or negative consequences for an employee or student who reports censurable conditions are prohibited. Retaliation means any adverse action, practice or omission that is a result of or a reaction to someone who has reported. Examples of this may include:
- intimidation, harassment, unfair discrimination, social or professional exclusion or other improper conduct
- warning, change to duties and responsibilities, relocation or downgrading (for employees)
- suspension, termination, dismissal or disciplinary action (for employees)
- consequences for examination results, warning, expulsion or exclusion (for students)
Retaliation can be reported in the same way as other reports, cf. Section 7.
12 Consequences of erroneous reporting
Reporting that is obviously erroneous or is reported as harmful can have consequences for the reporter's employment or student relationship. Please be aware that it may be punishable to make false accusations against someone.
13 Basic principles for the processing of reported cases
- All enquiries must be taken seriously.
- The identity of the reporter is confidential information.
- Anonymous reporting must be assessed/processed.
- Anonymous sources may be just as important as open sources.
- The choice of reporting method should not affect how the report is handled.
- All reported cases shall be dealt with in confidence.
- The reporting system should be able to be used without fear of consequences.
- The recipient of a reporting case must investigate allegations of censurable conditions as soon as possible.
14 Administrative procedures for reported cases
The processing of reported cases shall comply with the Public Administration Act’s rules on administrative procedures and UiO's reporting procedures. UiO must assess specifically who should be involved in the further processing of the case, and what measures should be implemented. This depends on the type of case and the person to whom the reporting is directed.
Separate guides have been prepared for case officers who deal with the handling of reported cases step by step and offer templates for schedule, meeting notice, minutes and final report:
- Handling cases of censurable conditions reported by employees
- Handling cases of censurable conditions reported by students (Norwegian)
14.1 Privacy, non-disclosure of confidential information and access to information
- Reported cases shall be dealt with in confidence. This means that the identity of the reporter and whoever has been reported shall not be revealed to any more people than those necessary for the further processing of the case.
- The Public Administration Act, Section 13, first subsection no. 1 (lovdata.no) (Norwegian) imposes a duty of confidentiality in respect of "someone's personal circumstances." As a general rule, the identity of the reporter will be subject to a duty of confidentiality under this provision. Therefore, it will be mandatory to set aside general access to information requirements regarding the identity of the reporter pursuant to Section 13 of the Freedom of Information Act (lovdata.no) (Norwegian), cf. Section 13 (1) No. 1 of the Public Administration Act (lovdata.no) (Norwegian).
- If the reporting is directed at employees or students at UiO, it may be necessary to confront these with the report and, thereby inform about the identity of the reporter in accordance with the Public Administration Act 13 b (1) no. 1 (lovdata.no) (Norwegian) and general contradiction principles.
- When investigating the reporting and during conversations with others who may shed light on the case, it may be necessary to disclose the identity of the reporter.
- If the case may conclude in an individual decision, the party has the right to familiarise himself with the documents of the case cf. Section 18 of the Public Administration Act (lovdata.no) (Norwegian). The person who has been reported will normally have the right to know the identity of the reporter. The identity of the reporter may nevertheless be withheld if there are special reasons that indicate that this should not be disclosed to the person concerned, and if it is not of significant importance to the person concerned to be informed of the identity of the reporter. The protection of the source must be determined based on such a concrete overall assessment, cf. Public Administration Act Section 19, second subsection, letter b (lovdata.no) (Norwegian). As a general rule, it may be assumed that if the information provided is not clearly confirmed and documented in any other way and may be of not insignificant importance to the decision, the party is entitled to know the name of the source.
- If a party to the case is made aware of confidential information that applies to anyone other than itself, the party may use the information to safeguard its own interests in the case, but shall not disseminate it further.
- The person who is the subject of the reporting should always have information about the prohibition against retaliation.
- Questions of access will be regulated in, inter alia, the Freedom of Information Act, the Public Administration Act, the Personal Data Act, etc.
14.2 Initial investigations of the reporting case
The reporter shall receive confirmation that their report has been received as soon as possible, at the latest within a week.
If a reporting case involves allegations against employees or students at the University of Oslo, the case officer must first investigate whether the allegations may be correct. Erroneous accusations may be based on the reporter being in good faith, but having perceived the circumstances of the case incorrectly. This could serve as grounds for closing the case without further follow-up. The assessment must be documented, and both the reporter and EIR must be informed.
In case of suspicion of or uncovered punishable offences, the University Director must, in consultation with the responsible manager, consider notifying the police. Further investigations and measures must be arranged so that any police investigation is not disrupted.
If an employee reports on his/her immediate manager for circumstances relating to bullying, discrimination, threats, violence, abuse or any other forms of harassment, the manager’s manager shall take over personnel responsibility for that employee while the reporting case is being processed. The employee shall be notified as to who has taken over temporary personnel responsibility.
14.3 Support and care for the involved parties
Being involved in a reporting case can be burdensome for both the reporter, the person has been reported and other involved parties. Measures that may alleviate their burden should be assessed on an ongoing basis. Predictability and information should be prioritised to the extent possible.
Employees should be informed of the possibility of follow-up by the Occupational Health Service (BHT).
Students should be informed of the possibility of priority follow-up by SiO Health (sio.no).
14.4 Investigation of reported cases
- Follow-up of reporter:
- As a general rule, the case officer should invite the reporter to a meeting to shed light on the case.
- The reporter should be informed that they may be accompanied by an adviser/support person to the meeting.
- The reporter should be informed that the subject of the reporting will be informed of the content of the reporting, the opportunity to explain themselves and information about the prohibition against retaliation.
- Follow-up of the subject of the reporting :
- As a general rule, the case officer should invite the subject of the reporting to a meeting to shed light on the case.
- The subject of the reporting should be informed that they may be accompanied by an adviser/support person to the meeting.
- As a general rule, the subject of the reporting shall be given information about the content of the reported conditions before the meeting and be given the opportunity to explain their version of the case.
- The subject of the reporting should be given information about the prohibition against retaliation and that they should not contact the reporter directly about the case.
- The case officer assesses whether there is a need to meet any witnesses to shed light on the case. Witnesses should be informed that they may be accompanied by an adviser/support person to the meeting.
- Information about process – a timetable should be drawn up at an early stage that describes the process and time aspect in the follow-up of the case.
- In the notice of meetings, everyone should be given information about who is participating and that minutes will be recorded. The minutes should describe events and times, names of persons involved and their association with the case. The parties and any witnesses shall be given the opportunity to provide input to the minutes of meetings that they themselves have attended.
- The parties shall be given the opportunity to receive any new information that is of significance for the conclusion of the case.
- If UiO collects information in connection with a reporting case, the person concerned shall be informed. This does not apply in cases where, of consideration to a possible police investigation or for other reasons that complicate the investigation of the case, it is important that the person concerned is not made aware of the reporting case.
- During the investigation, the case officer continuously assesses whether urgent or temporary measures are needed pending a final conclusion in the case.
- If the reporting concerns cases that fall under the safety representative's duties such as accidents and safety for employees, the safety representative shall be informed by the employer.
14.5 Conclusion / termination of the reporting case
- The case officer shall ensure that the case is as well illuminated as possible before a decision is reached.
- Processing of the case shall be documented in writing and a conclusion reached as to whether any censurable conditions have occurred.
- The parties and their managers, where appropriate, shall be informed as quickly as possible of the outcome of the case.
- EIR shall have access to case documents and copies of the final report, etc.
14.6 Further follow-up
- The responsible manager implements necessary measures to reestablish a secure working environment.
- If censurable conditions have occurred which could involve a breach of official duties, the responsible manager shall consider whether or not there are grounds for opening a personnel case. The reporter will not have a special right of access to, or information about the personnel case.
- If a student has acted in a manner covered by Section 4-8, first or second subsection of the Norwegian University and University Colleges Act (lovdata.no) (Norwegian), the responsible manager shall assess whether there are grounds for initiating a separate student case. The reporter will not have a special right of access to, or information about the student case.
- If a condition is to be reported to the police, the complaint shall normally be filed by the University Director.
15 Archiving of reported cases
- As a general rule, personal data shall not be stored longer than is necessary to carry out the purpose of the processing.
- All relevant documents in the case shall be archived in line with the University of Oslo’s and the Archives Act’s provisions on archiving and protection. Please contact the archive management before deleting documents in reported cases.
16 Internal controls
- The Internal Audit Unit has a control function in ensuring that each reporting case is followed up.
- The Internal Audit Unit shall report annually to the Board on the number of received reported cases.
Appendix 1: Roles in UiO's reporting system for employees and students
- Speak up reception at the Faculty: consists of a manager, learning environment contact and a deputy who receive and process reports from students.
- Internal Audit Unit (EIR): receives web form reports from employees and establishes a reporting council. They also receive a copy of all student reports and conduct internal audits with the scope of reports and ensure that the individual reports are followed up.
- Reporting Council: is established by EIR upon receipt of reports from employees to determine who should follow up the case. The reporting council will preferably consist of representatives from EIR and the Department of Personnel Support. Representatives from the Section for Student Affairs, Section for Research Administration, the relevant unit or the relevant Si fra reception are involved if the case falls under their areas of responsibility.
- The University Director: has system responsibility for the reporting line for employees and the Si fra system for students and can, if necessary, set up a group for central processing of reported cases.
- Central processing of reported cases: the University Director may decide upon central processing of reported cases. Specialists in the relevant field of study, primarily from the Department of Personnel Support and the Section for Student Affairs, will then be responsible for the processing. The responsible manager of the unit in question and the Si fra reception (when students are involved) are kept informed of the progress in the proceedings and the results.
- Department of Personnel Support: provides guidance, training and support to managers who will process reported cases. Assists EIR in the reporting council, and follows up reported cases. The department has system responsibility for the reporting line for employees.
- Department of Education Services: provides guidance, training and support for the faculties' Si fra receptions. Assists EIR in the reporting council as needed. The section is responsible for the Si fra system for students.
- Department of Research Administration: Contributes with guidance, training and support to the faculties in research matters. Assists EIR in the reporting council as needed. The Section acts as the secretariat for the Research Ethics Committee.
- Employee representatives: can receive and pass on reporting reports from employees and may act as advisory assistants in reported cases.
- Occupational Health Service (BHT): may be involved by managers and employees if deemed appropriate. BHT has a free and independent position in professional issues and can assist both managers and employees in reported cases or conflict situations.
- Ombud for students: has a free and independent position at the University of Oslo. Students can seek out the Ombud for students for advice and assistance in reported cases and may request that the Ombud for students forwards a report anonymously. The Ombud for students may act as an advisory assistant in students' meetings with UiO.
- Ombud for research: has a free and independent position at the University of Oslo. Academic staff can seek out the Ombud for research for advice and assistance in reported cases and may request that the Ombud for research forwards a report anonymously. The Ombud for research can act as an advisory assistant in reported cases.
- Safety representatives: shall safeguard the interests of employees in matters relating to the working environment, and have a special duty to blow the whistle pursuant to Section 6-2 of the Working Environment Act. The safety representatives can receive and pass on reports from employees and may act as advisory assistants in reported cases. In reported cases, the safety representatives shall be available to the employee for advice and guidance.
- SiO: has no formal role in reported cases, but students involved in reported cases may at their own request receive priority support from SiO Health.
- Student priest: has no formal role in reported cases.
- Prepared by: Department of Personnel Support and Department of Education Services
- Approved by: The University Director
- Approval date: 16 June, 2020
- Version: 3
- Case and document no. in ePhorte: 2020/5456