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Advice from a confidential counsellor

The confidential counsellors are there for you to discuss confidential matters with, such as bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment, aggression or discrimination. You might also want to talk to them about problems with your manager or breaches of academic integrity.

There are different confidential counsellors for different situations:

Confidential counsellor malpractice: this could be excessive spending on a project, for example, or the improper use of a lab.

Confidential counsellor unacceptable behaviour: the workplace should be completely free from unacceptable behaviour, such as bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation, discrimination and violence. If you experience or witness unacceptable behaviour, get in touch with the confidential counsellor.

Confidential counsellor personnel affairs: You may at some point experience problems in your employment relationship with the university. You might feel as if your supervisor will never be satisfied with your performance, or you may not be comfortable with certain decisions. If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. 

Confidential counsellor PhD candidates: Are you a PhD candidate, and is there something you’d prefer to discuss with someone other than your thesis director or supervisor? The confidential counsellor for PhD candidates is here to help.

Confidential counsellor academic integrity: The confidential counsellor for academic integrity is your first port of call for any questions or situations relating to academic integrity, or if you have suspicions about a current or former employee of Leiden University.

This is what you can expect from a confidential counsellor

Confidential counsellors offer you advice if you have problems in the workplace. They listen, they support you and help you to find solutions for improving your situation. In concrete terms, this means you can expect the confidential counsellor to:

  • Be a listening ear;
  • Help you to consider what actions you could take and possible solutions;
  • Advise you on how to resolve the situation and what to do if you want to submit a complaint; 
  • Offer assistance and, if you wish, accompany you to a meeting with the other person;
  • If necessary, refer you to other support bodies (internal or external).

The confidential counsellor will not: act as a mediator, intermediary or adviser in objection and appeal proceedings; intervene in the normal judicial process; or become involved, in principle, with performance appraisal problems or labour conflicts.

After asking a confidential counsellor to make contact, you will receive a response as soon as possible to arrange a meeting, either online or in person. In this meeting, you will discuss the situation and any support you may need.

If you want to submit a complaint, the confidential counsellor will be able to assist you with this.

Anything you say to a confidential counsellor is automatically guaranteed to be confidential. The confidential counsellor requires your explicit consent before taking any action in consultation with you. You can decide for yourself whether to follow the advice, discuss the issues more widely or submit a complaint. Moreover, the confidential counsellors are completely independent.

If it seems necessary, the confidential counsellor can signal an issue in a general way, for example to a dean or the Ombuds Officer; it is important that the university is aware of problems within the organisation. However, this will never involve disclosing your identity or your own situation.

Help with a difficult conversation

You feel that your manager is discriminating against you. She treats you differently than your colleagues. She no longer responds to your mails, for example, won’t grant you permission to follow specific training and has been ignoring you since a discussion about the problems became heated. You definitely do not want to discuss the matter with her anymore but want to discuss this behaviour with her manager instead. You give the confidential counsellor permission to attend this meeting. The manager takes action and your manager’s attitude changes for the better.

Help to improve communication

You are dissatisfied with your scheduling. This annoys your manager, and your relationship deteriorates. You contact the confidential counsellor. Together you have soon analysed the situation. You think you shouldn’t have to say why your schedule is so important to you: you have caring responsibilities and have to fit these into your schedule, but see this as a private matter. The confidential counsellor advises explaining to your manager in general terms how important it is for you to have a convenient schedule. Then you can count on more understanding and fewer problems.

Having doubts?

Are you unsure which of the confidential counsellors to approach with a problem or question, or do you want some information about your options for reporting an issue? The central information point is a confidential, and if preferred, anonymous way of contacting a confidential counsellor. You can get in touch via e-maila contact form or by phone 071-527 3128.  

You can also contact the Ombuds Officer for staff. Whereas a confidential counsellor primarily considers your individual situation, the Ombuds Officer focuses on patterns and how the working environment can be made safer.

Appeals and Objections Committee

If you disagree with a decision and are unable to reach an amicable agreement, you can lodge an objection against the decision via the Appeals and Objections Committee. The committee, the secretary and the relevant secretariat have a duty of confidentiality.  All information handled by them is therefore kept strictly confidential.

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