Whistleblowing FAQ

What is the position of EPFL towards whistleblowing?

EPFL provides employees an alert procedure that allows EPFL to be informed as soon as possible of any serious misconduct.

Who is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is someone who reveals or tries to reveal information concerning legally or ethically incorrect behaviour, of which he/she has obtained knowledge in the course of his/her activity within EPFL.

Who can give the alert?

Any employee or student of the EPFL can launch an alert to report misconduct.

Why did EPFL adopt the process of alert?

As a public institution, EPFL has a responsibility to the public, the legislature, the students, the faculty, the staff and the donors so that they conduct their business ethically and in accordance with the laws and regulations. The whistleblowing procedure will allow EPFL to be informed as soon as possible of any serious misconduct. Information concerning the possibility of serious misconduct is in the interest of EPFL and is in compliance with good corporate governance practices.

What are the legally or ethically incorrect behaviours that can be announced?

Misconduct should be understood to be legally or ethically incorrect behaviour belonging to the following categories:

  • any criminally reprehensible behaviour
  • scientific fraud
  • undeclared conflicts of interest
  • non-compliance with legal or supervisory obligations
  • the misuse of financial resources and facilities
  • non-compliance or bypassing of internal guidelines and control mechanisms

What is the alert procedure (whistleblowing) at EPFL?

You can announce your allegations orally or in writing to the ombudsperson (the person who has the responsibilities of coordination of whistleblowing at EPFL). You can also report your claims to your hierarchical superior or another competent person who shall take appropriate measures to resolve the problem or report the allegations to the ombudsperson. You are encouraged to write your report (using the form available) so that the allegations are clear.

Will my whistleblower report remain confidential?

Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible within the limitations of law and policy and the legitimate needs of the investigation. Your identity will be known by the EPFL staff participating in the procedure. Your identity may be disclosed in the circumstances where the law requires EPFL to release the information. In addition, you should also realize that your public testimony may be needed to prove the case against the accused. If you reveal your identity to others yourself, EPFL will no longer have to maintain confidentiality.

Can an alert be given anonymously?

In general, reports must be signed by the name of their author. In exceptional circumstances, they can be anonymously transmitted to the ombudsperson.

What information should I provide when I make my report?

You should state the facts with as much specific information as possible so that your allegations can be considered, for example what happened, who was involved, and the date of the event. You should not speculate or draw conclusions, and you should be available to the ombudsperson for questioning.

If I don’t want to report my allegations at EPFL, who should I contact?

You are encouraged to report the information to the EPFL ombudsperson or your hierarchical superior; however, you also have the option to report your allegations to the Internal Appeals Commission of the Federal Institutes of Technology.

Is there a deadline for filing a whistleblower report?

No, but it is important to file a report as soon as you have enough evidence to write a report in good faith. If you wait, evidence becomes stale, hindering investigation, and then EPFL might not be able to solve the problem.

What happens after the deposition of my whistleblower report?

A preliminary investigation will be conducted and you may be contacted for an interview. The preliminary investigation will determine if a full investigation is undertaken.