A new law intended to protect workers that point out irregularities in their workplace came into force in Sweden on New Year’s Day (1 January).
The Scandinavian country’s new legislation will offer new protection for employees that sound the alarm about malpractice in their places of work and will punish employers that discriminate or cut pay rises as a result.
The law will focus largely on the private sector, given the rise in outsourcing of education and healthcare services, especially since these programmes are still largely funded by the taxpayer.
Swedish culture generally avoids open criticism of one’s peers and the new system will offer a framework in which people can voice individual views.
First proposed in February 2015, the new law follows in the footsteps of Sweden’s neighbour, Norway, which has had a similar system in place since 2007.
One of the main stipulations of the law is that employees will only be eligible for protection if they try to deal with the matter internally first, which is intended to encourage open debate in the workplace.
The new law has been criticised as it allegedly opens the door for employees to report issues that are not actually illegal or in breach of company guidelines.
Fredrik Malm of the Liberal Party told Radio Sweden that the law “should not open it up for people to be able to report issues just because they personally find them unethical”, adding that “what people consider good morals differs a lot”.
Whistleblowing has become a heavily discussed topic in recent years, as high-profile cases like the LuxLeaks affair have highlighted the scant protection people are often awarded when bringing wrongdoing to a higher authority’s attention.