Universiteit Leiden

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Staff Ombuds Officer

Marjan van Dasselaar is the Staff Ombuds Officer. The Staff Ombuds Officer gives independent advice to the University on how the staff’s work environment can be made safer.

Social safety in our organisation

Marjan does this by investigating themes and recurring patterns, which often form the background of specific problems encountered by staff members, such as unacceptable behaviour, discrimination, conflicts and integrity issues. The Ombuds Officer is therefore a crucial aspect of social safety in our organisation.

Based on reports from within the organisation, the Ombuds Officer can decide to initiate an investigation of themes or problematic patterns, such as patterns of unacceptable behaviour, harassment, lack of integrity, racism and discrimination, transgressive behaviour.

The Ombuds Officer’s attention can be drawn to problems in a variety of ways. Information reported directly by staff members is obviously crucial. Other sources that help to create a picture of where problems may arise include the insights of confidential counsellors, communication from the participation bodies and information from surveys, such as the Staff Survey (Personeelsmonitor). 

An investigation by the Ombuds Officer can include interviews with staff members. An investigation will result in a report of findings, together with recommendations for improving the work environment. The Executive Board is obliged to respond to these. 

The procedure followed by the Staff Ombuds Officer is set down in regulations conforming to the national framework of Universities of The Netherlands (UNL) and the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU). The Ombuds Officer is completely independent and is not under the authority of any administrative body. 

The Ombuds Officer will not provide assistance with your problem: this is what the confidential counsellors are for. The Ombuds Officer also does not handle complaints: this is the function of the complaints committees

A problem can be reported not only by University staff but also freelancers, the participation bodies, the confidential counsellors, external parties and former staff. By doing this, you will be helping the Ombuds Officer to build up a picture of the types of problems that arise in our organisation, and where they occur. 

If you would like to contact the Staff Ombuds Officer, please send an email to ombuds.medewerkers@leidenuniv.nl or call +31 6 38950408.

What are the next steps
When you report an unsafe situation, the Ombuds Officer can look at whether there is a pattern or another reason to initiate an investigation. The Ombuds Officer will then inform you about what is going to happen. If an investigation takes place, the Ombuds Officer will share her findings with you in writing, before producing her report. You will have the opportunity to respond to her findings. 

Where possible, your manager is the first point of contact if problems arise. By discussing them with your own manager, solutions can often be found before matters get out of hand.  In some cases, the nature of a problem may make it impossible to discuss it with your manager, or you might not be able to resolve it between you. Discussing the issue with a confidential counsellor can be helpful in cases of this kind. If you contact a confidential counsellor or the Workplace Issues Helpline , you will be able to discuss your problem in strict confidence and try to find a solution together. If you have any medical or mental health problems, you should contact the university doctor

There are several important differences between a confidential counsellor and the Staff Ombuds Officer.

The confidential counsellor The Staff Ombuds Officer
Is on the side of staff members Is completely independent 
Gives advice and help on your situation Does not advise individual staff members
Serves as a listening ear for staff members Identifies problems (by receiving reports)
Focuses on individual cases Focuses on systemic themes 
Does not mediate Is permitted to mediate, if necessary


More information

You can find more information about confidential counsellors and social safety on the webpage Social Safety.

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