July 28, 2023
When implementing a whistleblower service it is possible that your organisation will have to decide if filed reports should be handled internally or externally. In this article, we’ll explore which alternative might be more fitting for your organisation.
External and internal case handling should not be confused with external and internal whistleblowing, which is more about what channel the whistleblower uses to file their report and less about who the recipient is. You can read more about internal and external whistleblowing in this blog post.
What does internal case handling mean?
If whistleblowing reports are to be handled internally, at least two people from your organisation are to be chosen as case handlers in your whistleblower platform. The chosen case handlers can have any position within the company, really. It is common, however, that employees in the legal or HR department are selected for the task. If your organisation lacks a legal and HR department, the case handler can be someone else.
In Swedish whistleblower law, it is stated that a case handler should be independent with regard to the whistleblowing report. It can be difficult to determine exactly who can be viewed as independent in your organisation. Our general recommendation is usually to avoid choosing someone on the board of directors, a shareholder, or an owner of the company to be a case handler.
What does external case handling mean?
External handling of whistleblowing reports means that the case handlers in your platform are not employees within your organisation. Instead, the filed reports are processed by an accountant, a consultant or a solicitor. Exactly how the reports are handled by an external recipient can differ depending on what whistleblowing service your organisation uses. In Visslan’s whistleblowing service, external case handling means that a legal practitioner from one of our partner firms will administer, document and analyse filed reports.
Additionally, the legal practitioner will determine if the filed report is to be considered a proper whistleblowing report, or something else. Regardless of the contents of the report, the external recipient will reach out to the appointed whistleblower contact within your organisation and let them know that a report has been filed. The legal practitioner will also give an initial recommendation regarding how it is possible for your organisation to further process the report.
If the report is a whistleblowing report, the external recipient will handle necessary communication, follow up with the whistleblower within the time frames enforced by Swedish whistleblower law and make sure to document and administer the report correctly.
Case handling in small and large organisations
The number of employees might determine what type of case handling your organisation is best suited for. It can be difficult to appoint two case handlers that have the competence required and are independent enough within a small organisation.
In larger organisations it is generally easier to find potential case handlers that are not owners or part of the board.
Benefits of an external recipient function
Benefits of implementing a whistleblower service with an external recipient function include that:
- the recipient is guaranteed to be independent
- compliance with the Swedish whistleblowing law is enforced
- the workload for the HR or legal department does not increase
Using an external recipient function can also be a way of building trust for your whistleblower service, especially if you are a smaller organisation. It is more likely that a potential whistleblower will file their report if the whistleblower can be confident the report will be taken seriously and handled correctly. Using an external recipient function signals that your organisation care about the handling of whistleblowing reports. In this blog post you can find more ways to improve trust for your whistleblower service.
What option suits our organisation best?
It is always up to your organisation to decide on whether reports are handled internally or externally. In conclusion, it can be said that in smaller organisations, there are some clear benefits of external case handling. For larger organisations, where the competence and independence required can be easily found, handling reports internally might come naturally.
For smaller organisations, external case handling can be the more cost effective way of handling reports. That can also be true for larger organisations, but the cost of an external recipient function will depend on the number of employees as well as the partner you choose to handle your reports. Do you want help to determine what alternative suits your organisation best? Book a free consultation with our whistleblower experts.