Counselors for complaints concerning harassment

Every Institute or company in the Netherlands has the legal obligation not to tolerate harassment of students, employees or others by other students, employees or others who have a commitment to the institute or company. Within the company there has to be free access to counselors.
A counselor is a person to whom who has been subjected to harassment or be accused of harassment may turn for advice and support. Counselors do not initiate any action without the permission of the person seeking advice and support.
Counselors perform their tasks in such a way that the privacy of the persons who turn to them for advice and support, as well as that of any other people involved, is guaranteed. In the execution of their tasks they must maintain strict confidentiality regarding all those involved.
The tasks of a Counselor includes the following:
- assisting the person who complains to her/him about harassment in reaching a decision whether or not to submit a complaint to the Complaint Committee and/or to report to the police, and to assist in formulating a complaint to be submitted to the Complaints Committee.
- referring the person who complaints to her/him about harassment, to professional support outside the Company.
- supporting the person who submits a harassment complaint to the Complaints Committee.
- supporting the person who has experienced harassment in an attempt to find a solution by mediation.
- providing the Executive Board with solicited and unsolicited advice in the area of prevention of harassment within the Company.
Counselors jointly submit an annual report to the Executive Board and Works Council on the number and nature of the cases handled by them. This reports contains no names, initials or other indications which could lead to the identification of those concerned.
Best practice is that within a Company there are more counselors known by the employees. There should be at least one male and one female counselor. One of the counselors should be an expert who is not employed by the Institute. A person appointed as a Counselor cannot at the same time be a member of the Complaints Committee.
The Executive Board appoints the Counselors, after consultation with the Works Council, for a five-year term of office. When appointing the first Counselors, the Executive Board may deviate from this rule in order to prevent all Counselors having to be replaced simultaneously. Re-appointment is possible. The Executive Board supplies a waiver to the Counselors for issuing a summons / subpoena the Counselor as a witness in juridical procedures.
The appointment as a Counselor terminates before the end of the five-year term on the grounds of termination of employment or of long-term disability. Moreover, the Executive Board can terminate the appointment of a Counselor on the grounds of malfunctioning as a Counselor, after consultation with the Works Council. If a Counselor is appointed ad interim, her or his term of office is equal to the remainder of the term of office of the Counselor whose appointment has terminated.
The counselors, the persons who turn to them for advice and support, and any other people involved, insofar as they are employed at or by the Company, are permitted to do the necessary work within office hours and on full pay.
Harassment will be given explicit attention in the introductory program for newly arrived students or employees. Moreover, the names of the Counselors and the members of the Complaints Committee as well as information about their accessibility will be widely communicated.

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