Sweden: Four Best Practices In Whistleblowing Case Management – Ensuring Correct Action Once The Whistle Is Blown

Last Updated: 3 September 2019
Article by Karin Henriksson
Most Read Contributor in Sweden, September 2019

Whistleblowing case management is all about what happens once an organisation receives a message that flags up suspected misconduct. In other words, how the case is received, processed, investigated and closed, and how the whistleblower is kept informed throughout.

Receiving and replying to whistleblowing messages and handling cases correctly is extremely important because respectful whistleblowing case management demonstrates that people's concerns are taken seriously. This generates trust in the whistleblowing system, and in the organisation's leadership, and perhaps nudges people closer to daring to blow the whistle. Based on years of customer experience, this article provides our best practices in setting up your whistleblowing system for the ultimate whistleblowing case management.

But first, why is correct whistleblowing case management more important now than ever?

All public and private organisations in the EU with more than 50 employees will soon be obliged to comply with new EU Whistleblower Protection law. Amongst other organisational obligations, these laws clearly emphasise the importance of responsive, transparent and timely whistleblowing case management. When it comes to procedures for follow-up on reports, the law specifies requirements on confidentiality, acknowledgement of receipt, response times, competence of persons receiving the reports, communication with the whistleblower and feedback on how the case is being processed. The new EU directive also includes the right to report concerns externally while remaining legally protected. That's a risk that any leader should seek to avoid.

Now then is the time for management and boards to act, to provide employees access to simple channels for reporting concerns and ensure their organisations offer compliant, effective and correct whistleblowing case management.

Best practice 1: Set up the right team for whistleblowing case management

We know from customer experience that the information that comes in via the whistleblowing system can vary. Content is often sensitive and sometimes incomplete. It can cover a wide range of areas or issues, sometimes containing serious criminal allegations. At other times the information may pertain to incidents that while worrying, may not constitute illegal activities. Reports can contain anything from financial, environmental, discriminatory or other forms of misconduct.

It is therefore not difficult to understand that the team responsible for whistleblowing case management needs to combine a wide range of skills, fields of expertise and knowledge.

What do organisations need to think about in composing their whistleblowing case management team?

  1. Who should receive the reports? Those who receive whistleblower reports need to have the skills to handle very sensitive data and be able to recognise the technical fields that need to be involved. According to WhistleB's 2019 annual customer survey on organisational whistleblowing, the functions that are most often represented on the whistleblowing case management team are Compliance and Legal, followed by HR and Ethics.
  2. How big should the team be? While a broad spectrum of roles is encouraged in the whistleblowing case management team, the team should not be too big, for the sake of reducing the risk of information dissemination. In larger companies, the team may be composed of the ethics or compliance officers in the different countries. In other cases, there may be one central whistleblowing case management team at group level that delegates cases as appropriate.
  3. How should extra team members be added into the team? Given the potential variety of whistleblower cases, and the need to keep the core team as small as possible, additional skills may need to be connected into the whistleblowing case management process on a case by case basis. For example, very specific fields of law such as employment or environmental law, or specialist external investigations professionals may need to be called in. A different escalation path may need to be followed if senior managers are accused. The system must allow for such experts to be added securely.
  4. Who is responsible for reports that are not really whistleblowing matters and therefore fall outside of the whistleblowing case management process? Such reports typically raise HR issues, which while they may not be a serious legal crime, may signal that all is not right in the workplace environment. Such information can be valuable for Board members to receive. Whistleblowing is an increasingly important digital HR tool.

Best practice 2: Ensure the system has a secure whistleblowing case management tool, that preferably allows whistleblower anonymity

We cannot emphasise the importance of security in data management enough.

Critically, the whistleblower system needs to technically ensure and support data security to protect the confidentiality, and preferably the anonymity, of the whistleblower. For example, the whistleblowing team needs to be able to discuss the case securely, without using email. What this means is that that such communication needs to take place within the whistleblowing case management tool, through encrypted channels.

Another example involves translating messages that are reported in different languages. The whistleblowing case management tool also needs to securely integrate with translation technologies to allow for this.

Based on many years of customer experience, we know that whistleblower anonymity is essential for gaining the most value from whistleblowing. If whistleblowers are allowed to remain anonymous in reporting and throughout whistleblowing case management, there will be greater trust in the system and more insightful information is likely to be reported.

What does anonymity require from the features and the security of the whistleblowing case management tool? Essentially, the whistleblowing team needs to be able to conduct an anonymous dialogue with the whistleblower throughout whistleblowing case management. According to WhistleB's 2019 Customer Survey, 50% of all whistleblower reports received lead to an anonymous dialogue. Often the whistleblower team does not receive all the information needed to begin with and has to ask the whistleblower for more details. In WhistleB's system, the whistleblowing case management tool allows the whistleblower to upload pictures, films, files and so on, anonymously and securely. The tool also removes all IT addresses and metadata as far as technically possible and supports compliant and secure archiving and deletion of case files once they are no longer needed.

Best practice 3: Consider whether internal or external, third-party whistleblowing case management is right for your organisation

Some of our customers choose to outsource whistleblowing case management. What does this involve? It is when an external party or an ombudsman, sometimes in the form of a law firm, receives the whistleblower reports, categorises the cases, responds to the whistleblower, connects external expert resources to the team on a case by case basis, and so on.

The benefits of using external parties for whistleblowing case management is that it can ensure a greater level of transparency. The third party reviews each case, is independent of internal politics, and can more easily escalate cases to the board, for example, if senior members of the management team are implicated, or if other pertinent information arises that constitutes matters for the board's attention.

On this point, irrespective of whether an external party is used for all or part of the whistleblowing case management, there should be very clear and trustworthy escalation procedures and channels in place so that no cases can get stuck where they should not.

Internal whistleblowing case management also has a number of clear advantages. An internal representative is better able to understand the context of any reports. They may have access to information from other areas of the business and can piece together the puzzle of events to give a clearer picture.

Whether internal or external whistleblowing case management is selected, it is nonetheless best practice to minimise data sharing, establish an organisation and process that can be trusted, and to seek help from specialist competences when needed.

Best practice 4: Be responsive in whistleblowing case management

Let's end where we began this article. Always keeping the whistleblower informed will build trust in the whistleblowing service. If organisations set up their whistleblower system according to the above best practices, they will be in a good position to respond to whistleblowers professionally and pave the way for correct and compliant whistleblowing case management and fair investigations.

Are you interested in finding out more about whistleblowing and market-leading whistleblowing solutions? If so, contact WhistleB. We would be happy to share our insight and experience on what has worked best for other customers and provide you with a demo of our whistleblowing solution and integrated whistleblowing case management tool.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions