Last changed: 10 April 2024

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has a zero tolerance approach to victimisation. All SLU staff and students must be treated equally and with respect. We must demonstrate tolerance towards diversity and differing opinions. Everybody has a duty to prevent victimisation.


  • Victimisation refers to actions that insult, offend, or are abusive towards one or more members of staff. These actions can result in ill-health or exclude a person from the workplace community.

The Swedish Work Environment Authority’s provisions on the organisational and social work environment, AFS 2015:4 outline an employer’s responsibilities related to victimisation. All employers must comply with the regulations presented in the document. Access the document here

The SLU work environment policy stipulates that managers and supervisors must know how to prevent victimisation and be familiar with SLU’s procedures for managing victimisation. Read SLU’s work environment policy.

If you have been victimised

  • It is always the victim’s subjective experience that determines what is considered victimisation.
  • Talk about the problem and seek support from your peers.
  • Give an account of events, note how, when, where.
  • Contact your line manager and ask for a one-on-one meeting.
  • Accept help to process the situation if you are offered.
  • You can also contact your union or health and safety representative for help.

If you have experienced harassment or victimisation, your first contact should be your manager. If, for whatever reason, you cannot talk to your manager, contact a human resources officer from the Division of Human Resources, your union, or health and safety representative in your workplace. Doctoral students can contact the doctoral student ombudsman. Read more about reporting in the FAQs.

If you have been a victim, it is possible to submit an anonymous report, however this will affect the type of action SLU can take. In order to take action against a specific person, an investigation needs to take place meaning the victim needs to provide their contact details. However, anonymous reports can be used in SLU’s preventive work and can lead to general measures being taken.

Victimisation – prevention and procedures

SLU has procedures for preventing and addressing victimisation. Here, managers can read more about both the preventive measures and the actions and consequences in place for addressing cases of victimisation. The process is presented under the expandable headings below. You can read about each stage of the process, what needs to be done, when and who must act. 

Preventing victimisation

Managerial responsibilities

All SLU managers must work to prevent victimisation. The university’s work environment policy stipulates that the organisation has a zero tolerance approach to victimisation. In order to prevent victimisation, you need to be aware of the specific psychosocial work environment. This means that you need to know how to detect victimisation early on, and address any cooperation problems and other sources of victimisation. You must be able to identify signs of victimisation, and need the skills to determine which actions to take.

Regular evaluations of the organisation, work environment and work climate are ways to detect problems related to the work environment. This can be done through health and safety inspections, staff development reviews, workplace meetings, activities to increase knowledge about victimisation, and rapid response to victimising statements and inappropriate behaviour.

You must act immediately if you see any signs of an unhealthy organisational or social work environment. Help is available from human resources officers who can discuss suitable actions to take.

Preventive measures

Preventive measures can include:

  • Following up and adjusting procedures, defining roles and responsibilities.
  • Ensuring a thorough introduction for new staff. This enables people to settle into their work groups.
  • Improving contact opportunities within the department or unit, for example by holding regular meetings and discussions with staff.
  • Using individual meetings to evaluate the work situation for all staff.
  • Conducting regular evaluations of the work climate and behaviours towards each other, and following up on the recommended actions.
  • Discussing the definition of victimisation within work groups, and making sure they are aware about the procedures for victimisation.
  • As a manager, you must ensure that you and any other subordinate managers have been trained in communication and workplace interaction, conflict management and other work environment issues. If necessary, contact a human resources officer.

Investigating victimisation

Managerial responsibilities

As a manager, you must initiate an investigation if a member of your staff believes they have been victimised. You have a duty to act as soon as you become aware of any victimisation against a person at your department or equivalent. You do not need any evidence showing something has happened. There are no specific procedural requirements for reporting victimisation. A report can be submitted via email, letter, or telephone call.

Investigations are a way to collect sufficient information and knowledge about a situation. This will enable you to determine whether there is a case of victimisation, or if the events are the result of something else that needs addressing. If victimisation is ascertained, it must be stopped immediately and steps taken to prevent it from reoccurring in the future. 

As a manager, you have a duty to investigate and take action regardless of whether the victimisation is being carried out by staff or students. In certain cases, the duty to investigate also applies even if the victimisation is taking place outside of working hours – if it affects the situation at work. For example, it may include an incident on the way to or from work, or on social media.

Investigate victimisation

The scope and structure of a victimisation investigation can vary. This will depend on the situation in question. Base the investigation on systematic work environment management and the Swedish Work Environment Authority provisions on organisational and social work environment, AFS 2015:14

In certain cases, it may be more suitable for somebody else to conduct the investigation. The person investigating should have the necessary skills, be able to be impartial and have the trust of those affected. As manager, you have the primary responsibility to ensure that the investigation is conducted promptly, with integrity and is of high quality. 

Conducting an investigation can involve:

  • Finding out what has happened by talking to the person who feels victimised and the person accused. Meet them separately and privately. Make it clear that you will be documenting the conversation.
  • Appointing an investigator who is impartial, has the necessary skills, and has the trust of the parties involved. This may be a representative from occupational health services.
  • The investigation begins with an assessment of the events to determine whether it is a case of harassment, discrimination or victimisation. Inform everyone involved about the conclusions reached. 
  • Arranging individual meetings with people who may have noticed something. Make it clear that you will be documenting what they say.
  • Ensuring that both the victim and the accused are continually updated about the status of the investigation, the next stage, and the time frame.
  • Ensuring that both the victim and the accused are able to access the materials included in the case.
  • At the end of the investigation, assess what the employer needs to do to stop the victimisation reported. 

Important things to keep in mind

  • Pick up on early signals
  • Both parties (victim and accused) may need support, such as counselling which is available from occupational health services.
  • Consult your HR officer about structuring an investigation and how to inform both parties. HR officers can also advise you on the help available from occupational health services. 
  • If a third party informs you that a member of staff is being victimised, make an official note. Inform the third party that it is possible for the victim to remain anonymous if they wish, however, in such cases the employer will only be able to take general action related to the work environment. The contact details of the victim must be provided if targeted action is to be taken against the accused.
  • If you see or hear anything that could constitute victimisation, you must initiate an investigation based on your own observations. 

Document the case

Continually documenting the investigation and actions taken forms an essential resource for following up on the success of the actions. If legal action becomes necessary, everything will need to have been thoroughly and clearly documented.

By documenting the events, you may also discover whether the victimisation is part of a wider problem that requires more comprehensive measures.

Registration and confidentiality

Reports or knowledge of victimisation must be documented and registered. You must make an official note if a verbal report is submitted, or if you become aware of suspicions in a similar way. All information that is important for the investigation and any potential decision must be documented and registered.

It is possible to mark the case as confidential in order to protect those involved. However, marking a case as confidential does not guarantee that the documents can be kept confidential if access to them as is requested. Contact the registrar if you have any questions. Whenever access to a document is requested, a confidentiality assessment must be made. If there are legal grounds for making sections of the material confidential, these must be redacted before the document is handed over. Even if the university officially marks the case as confidential, it is important to remember that this can be appealed in the courts.

Anonymous cases

Anonymous reports can be submitted. However, an investigation and its potential consequences for the person or people accused of victimisation cannot be initiated if the victim wishes to remain anonymous. It will only be possible to take general measures as part of systematic work environment measures in these instances.

In such cases, it is important to be aware that occupational health services cannot assist individual employees who wish to remain anonymous or do not want to involve their manager.

Actions against victimisation

Managerial responsibilities

You must act quickly once victimisation has been established. Rapid actions must be taken to put an end to victimisation and prevent it from recurring in both the short and long term. The actions you choose for a specific case will depend on the investigation’s findings.

Possible actions

  • Inform the person carrying out the victimisation that their behaviour constitutes victimisation and must stop immediately.
  • Make them aware that if they repeat the victimisation, this may lead to disciplinary action such as a warning or dismissal. However, these are extreme measures that are relevant if the victimisation has continued despite reprimands, cautions, or other action. 
  • Continually follow up with the person accused and the victim as well as others affected by the events.
  • Be extra vigilant, especially in places or at times that have been shown to be particularly risky in this context.
  • Together with a human resources officer or occupational health services, discuss and take suitable actions for both the victim and the accused. This could include counselling.
  • Ask your HR officer about how to inform any other staff about ongoing investigations and actions.

Document the case

Continually documenting the investigation and actions taken forms an essential resource for following up on the success of the actions. In the event of the case being sent to the staff disciplinary board, everything must be thoroughly and clearly documented.

By documenting the events, you may also discover whether the victimisation is part of a wider problem that requires more comprehensive measures.

Registration and confidentiality

Reports of victimisation must be documented and registered. Contact the registrar. If a person requests access to the documents, contact the Legal Affairs Unit for a confidentiality assessment. Any sections of the material considered confidential can be redacted before they are handed over. Follow the instructions from the Legal Affairs Unit. Confidentiality can be reviewed, but does not guarantee an individual’s privacy.

Follow up on the actions taken

As manager, you should follow up on and evaluate the actions taken to assure yourself that the victimisation has not been repeated. If it becomes clear that the actions were insufficient, you must also consider what else can be done to put an end to the victimisation. Enlist the help of a human resources officer. If the problem is extensive and requires comprehensive general action, raise the matter with your own manager.

Legal consequences

Legal consequences

Serious cases of repeated victimisation following reprimands, meetings or other supportive measures can be pursued further if SLU has sufficient evidence. In such cases, the following actions can be taken against an employee who victimises others:

  • Disciplinary measures such as a warning or salary deduction 
  • Reassignment
  • Summary dismissal
  • Termination 

Very serious cases must be investigated by the Division of Human Resources in consultation with the Legal Affairs Unit. The Staff Disciplinary Board (PAN) will determine if legal action is to be taken. Cases involving higher-ranking employees (professors) are to be assessed by the Government Disciplinary Board for Higher Officials (SAN), who will then decide on any consequences.

Reporting to PAN/SAN

The person in charge of the investigation must consult with a human resources officer if the case will be reported to SLU’s staff disciplinary board or the Government Disciplinary Board for Higher Officials.


The regulations on the organisational and social work environment are not intended for cases involving students. This does not mean that the organisational and social work environment are less important for students. The Work Environment Act and provisions on systematic work environment management also apply to students’ work environment. The Work Environment Act stipulates that as an employer and education provider, SLU must take all the necessary actions to prevent ill health and accidents. 


HR Unit, Division of Human Resources