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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.

Confidential counsellors are available to advise you on problems at work. They will listen and support you, and they will help come up with solutions to improve your situation. 

Don’t worry about whether the confidential counsellor is the right person to contact with your problem or question. They will provide a listening ear and will go through your options with you. You decide whether you will follow their advice. Contacting a confidential counsellor does not mean you have submitted a complaint.

If you contact a confidential counsellor, you can be assured that you will remain anonymous. Your meetings with the counsellor are always confidential. The confidential counsellor will not take any action unless they first have your permission to do so. The confidential counsellors are independent and do not report to the Executive Board.

Each of our confidential counsellors has different areas of expertise. Below is a list of the confidential counsellors and their areas of expertise. If you’re not sure which one to contact, just contact the one you think might be able to help. If they can’t help, they will point you in the direction of a confidential counsellor who can. 

Confidential counsellor for personnel affairs 

For questions, problems or conflicts in your employment relationship that you cannot or do not want to discuss with your manager.

Confidential counsellor for unacceptable behaviour 

For questions, problems or conflicts relating to sexual harassment, intimidation, exclusion, racism, aggression, violence or discrimination.

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates 

For questions, problems or conflicts that you as a PhD candidate want to raise or discuss with someone other than your supervisors. Each faculty has its own confidential counsellor.

Confidential counsellor for academic integrity 

For if you suspect that the Dutch Code of Conduct on Academic Integrity has been breached. This could mean, for example, plagiarism or a failure to acknowledge co-authors.

Confidential counsellor for malpractice 

For matters that may threaten the integrity of the organisation. This could mean a suspected breach of legislative compliance, dangers to people and the environment or misuse of resources.

It can be difficult to tell someone about your problems or concerns. The confidential counsellors therefore play a crucial role in our organisation. What can you expect from a confidential counsellor?

Strict confidentiality. Confidential counsellors are obliged to treat any information you provide as confidential.

A listening ear. Sometimes you just want to talk to someone who won’t then pass the information on to anyone else.

Friendly advice on how you might resolve your particular issue. The confidential counsellor will discuss options with you.

Help with a strategy on how to raise the matter with the other person. The confidential counsellor can also attend a difficult meeting if you would like them to.

Advice on submitting a complaint, if you want this.

X The confidential counsellor will not tell anyone that you have contacted them: not your manager, HRM, or the dean – unless that is what you want.

X No judgment, nor will the confidential counsellor decide which version of events is true. That is not their job.

X The confidential counsellor won’t turn you away because your problem is too ‘trivial’. Confidential counsellors help with problems big and small, including, if you are unsure whether there is a problem.

X The confidential counsellor won’t turn you away if you have contacted the wrong confidential counsellor.

X The confidential counsellor won't decide whether you will attend an initial or further meeting. You decide that for yourself.   

If you contact a confidential counsellor, they will not tell anyone about this. However, it is important that the University is aware of problems within the organisation as a whole. This will help us improve the work environment at the University. If you are one of several people who have reported the same type of problem, the confidential counsellor can flag this theme as a problem that arises, for instance to a dean or the ombuds officer. This helps to improve the work environment for everyone. The confidential counsellor will not reveal your particular story or identity. They will flag up a potential issue, not the individuals that this concerns.

If you face problems after having contacted a confidential counsellor, please contact them to find a solution.

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.


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