Bribery and conflicts of interest


A civil servant must never abuse their position.

Legal rules on bribery are detailed in the Swedish Penal Code. Bribery is committed when a worker, or contractor, accepts a bribe on their own behalf or on behalf of someone else in carrying out their work. This legislation applies as well if an employee requests a bribe or allows themselves to be promised a bribe.

Employees at the university should be wary of offers of gifts, bequests, discounts, commissions, meals, travel, conferences, leisure offers, services or credits, but also more hidden offers such as purchases at cost price.

If you are not sure how to handle an offer of a gift or benefit, you should contact your manager to discuss the matter. If you become a victim of attempted undue influence in your work, you should immediately report it to your manager.

Conflicts of interest

In Chapter 1, Section 9 of the Instrument of Government, it stipulates that in their activities, authorities must take into account the equality of all before the law and observe objectivity and impartiality. This provision sets out the basic requirements for civil servants.

To ensure objectivity and impartiality, there are rules in section 16 of the Administrative Procedure Act regarding conflicts of interest. The rules on conflict of interest indicate when an employee may have such an interest in a case that their impartiality may be questioned. The conflict of interest rules apply to all administrative processing and are aimed at anyone who can influence the outcome of the case in any way. In cases involving the exercise of public authority, such as examinations or admission decisions, the rules on conflicts of interest are particularly important to consider. The application of the rules does not require any personal benefit or financial gain for the civil servant involved.

Note that all employees of a higher education institution, both teaching and administrative staff, are considered to be civil servants. The conflict of interest rules apply to all types of cases at the university: admissions, grading decisions, decisions on special support, recruitment, payment of allowances, etc. The rules also apply to the entire process, not just the final decision.

When do you have a conflict of interest?

  • If you or a close relative is an applicant in the case or if the outcome of the case is likely to be of particular benefit or harm to you or a close relative.
  • When a case is being appealed or otherwise decided at a higher instance and you have previously participated in the final proceedings at the lower instance.

You may also be disqualified if there is any other special circumstance that could affect your impartiality. For example, if you are

  • Friend or foe of a party or stakeholder in the case
  • Financially dependent on a party or stakeholder
  • Involved in the matter in such a way that suspicion can easily arise that the conditions for an impartial assessment are lacking.

If you are disqualified, you may not participate at all in the proceedings, either in preparation or in decision-making. Therefore, if you are aware of any circumstance that could constitute a disqualification against you, it is your responsibility to voluntarily inform your line manager. The responsible manager must make an assessment of the disqualification issue based on the rules of the Administrative Procedure Act. This assessment should be documented and added to the case file.

However, should you, intentionally or negligently, participate in the handling of a case even though you are considered to have a conflict of interest, you may be subject to disciplinary action for misconduct: a warning or a reduction in salary (Section 15 of the Public Employment Act). In some cases, you may risk public prosecution for misconduct (Section 22 of the Public Employment Act).

If you have questions, you can read more in the leaflet on Bribery and conflicts of interest (PDF, Swedish only) or contact the university's Legal Expert Åsa Dryselius.