AAU Handbook

Rules for Staff Members’ Freedom of Speech

Published: 11.09.2019 (Last revised: 12.08.2021)

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In accordance with the relevant provision of the Constitutional Act of Denmark, employees at Danish universities have the right to speak freely. However, employees also have a certain degree of duty to speak out. According to the University Act, the university, as a central knowledge-based body and cultural repository, must exchange knowledge and competences with society and encourage its employees to take part in public debate. One of the university's core tasks is to help ensure that the research knowledge that the university and its staff members possess can benefit society and public debate.

Aalborg University therefore encourages staff to take part in public debate where their research-based knowledge can help shed light on an issue. In this way, the university contributes to better-informed decisions on important societal matters and to a higher level of information in the general population and for decision makers. Staff members are also expected to participate in debate with the objectivity and dignity expected of a university employee.

Staff members at Aalborg University – scientific as well as technical and administrative – are protected, like other public employees, by the Constitutional Act of Denmark’s provision on freedom of speech. This means that you may participate in public debate on your own behalf and express personal opinions and views. This also applies to topics relating to your own field.

The framework for freedom of speech can be summarised as follows:

  • You must make it clear that you are speaking on your own behalf and not on behalf of Aalborg University. Only staff members who have authority according to the Rector's scheme of delegation may speak on behalf of Aalborg University.
     
  • All staff members may speak on their own behalf, to the best of their knowledge, within their field of expertise as well as on matters relating to the university, using their title and affiliation with the university.
     
  • You may speak on other matters of personal interest without using your affiliation with Aalborg University.
     
  • You must not violate your duty of confidentiality.
     
  • You must participate in debate with objectivity and dignity and must not speak in a manner that invades privacy or defames others.
     
  • You must not express yourself in an unreasonably coarse manner or present manifestly incorrect information about essential matters in your own field.

Staff members’ duty of loyalty to the university cannot lead to any further restrictions on free speech. However, consideration of the university’s internal decision-making process and its ability to function may mean that, in certain cases, you should exercise caution in expressing your view.[1]

You can read more about public employees' freedom of speech in the Ministry of Justice Guide on Public Employees' Freedom of Speech (only in Danish) and in Code of Conduct in the Public Sector.

 

[1] Particular emphasis may be given to whether the view expressed concerns matters in your own field, what position of authority you have, how close you are/have been to the decision-making process, whether the view was expressed before or after a decision was made, and whether the view expressed deals with resource issues of major importance to workplace conditions. See pages 12 and 13 of the Ministry of Justice Guide on Public Employees’ Freedom of Speech (only in Danish).

Origin, background and history

The rules replace the Code of Conduct for Freedom of Speech at Aalborg University.

The rules were prepared by the Rector's Office in conjunction with HR. The rules were approved by the Rector on 4 August 2021 after discussions with the Staff Policy Committee and the Main Joint Consultation Committee.

The rules will be revised as necessary.

Purpose and delimitation

The purpose of the rules is to describe the framework for when a public employee expresses their view.

Overall framework

The rules are based on the Ministry of Justice Guide on Public Employees' Freedom of Speech (only in Danish).

See also Code of Conduct in the Public Sector

Contact and responsibility

Questions may be directed to the Rector's Office at rektorsekretariatet@adm.aau.dk

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