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Advice from a confidential counsellor

If there’s something you’d like to discuss in confidence, you’re welcome to contact a confidential counsellor. This could be a problem with bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation, aggression or discrimination of any kind, or it could be a problem with your manager or a violation of academic integrity. Confidential counsellors will offer advice and discuss possible solutions with you and, if necessary, can help you to lodge a complaint.

Anonymity and confidentiality guaranteed

It is important to us that our staff feel safe and protected within the organisation. If you decide to contact a confidential counsellor, your anonymity will be guaranteed at all stages of the process. Anything you say to the confidential counsellor will always be treated in strict confidence, and he/she will never take action without your consent. Moreover, the confidential counsellors are independent and are not accountable to the Executive Board.

What can a confidential counsellor do for you?

Confidential counsellors will be pleased to give you guidance if you are dealing with a problem. They can help you set up a strategy for raising the issue with the other person, accompany you to a difficult meeting, notify someone higher in the organisation, if necessary, or help you to lodge a complaint. Communication and interpreting intentions are often important factors when a problem has arisen. People will sometimes act in ways that are not intended to hurt or harass in any way, but they can be perceived this way. Another important factor can be culture: what is acceptable in one culture may not be in another. A confidential counsellor will help you to identify what is really going on.

Some practical situations


Accompanying you to a difficult meeting

You feel that your manager is discriminating against you, treating you differently from your colleagues. She’s stopped replying to your emails, she won’t give you permission to take a specific training course, and after a heated discussion about the problems, she now completely ignores you. You’re determined not to approach her again about her behaviour, but instead want to discuss it with her manager. With your consent, the confidential counsellor accompanies you to this meeting. The outcome is that her manager takes action, after which you see a positive change in the way your manager treats you.

Helping to improve communication

You’re always dissatisfied with the rota you’re given. This is starting to annoy your manager and having an adverse effect on the relationship between you. You report this to the confidential counsellor, who quickly makes an analysis: you don’t think you should have to explain why your rota is so important to you. You need to combine your work with informal care duties, and you see this as a private matter. Despite your reservations, the confidential counsellor advises you to give your manager a brief explanation, in general terms, of why a convenient rota is so important to you. This results in better understanding and fewer problems.

Confidential counsellors: who handles what?

There are confidential counsellors for different issues or themes. The most appropriate one to contact depends on your question, complaint or problem. More information can be found in Confidential counsellors: who handles what?

If you’re not sure about which is the right one for you, simply contact any of the confidential counsellors and he/she will refer you to the right person.

Confidential counsellor for personnel affairs

For questions or problems in your employment relationship with the University that you’re unable/unwilling to discuss with your manager.

Confidential counsellor for unacceptable behaviour

If you experience sexual harassment, intimidation, aggression, violence or discrimination.

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates

For questions that you want to discuss with someone other than your PhD supervisor.

Confidential counsellor for academic integrity

If you suspect a violation of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

Confidential counsellor for malpractice

To expose wrongdoing where the public interest is at stake.

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