Employees may encounter forms of unwelcome behavior at work, such as bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination and aggression. It is pleasant when an affected employee can go to a confidant within the company with their problems.


Appointing a confidant

Companies can, in consultation with the works council, choose an internal or external confidant:

Outside the company: for example, through the occupational health and safety service provider or association;

Within the company: an in-house employee who is trained as a confidant or specially appointed for this purpose (especially in large organizations).

It is not advisable to appoint a company social worker or personnel officer, in addition to their regular duties, as a confidential advisor. This may cause conflicts in regular tasks.

Policies against psychosocial strain

Companies are required by the Working Conditions Law to protect their employees from psychosocial workload. They must create a policy for this and actually implement it. Appointing a trustee can be an important part of this policy.

A confidant is there for employees who have reports or complaints about improper behaviour such as:

  • aggression and violence
  • sexual harassment/unwanted intimacies
  • bullying
  • discrimination

The duties of a confidant include:

  • Providing initial care for employees who have been harassed and need help and advice.
  • Checking whether a solution is possible in the informal setting.
  • Inform the victim of other resolution options, such as complaint procedures.
  • Assisting, if required, if the employee wishes to raise the matter with a grievance committee or company management.
  • Referring to other helping agencies, such as a mediator.
  • Providing education on how to deal with undesirable behavior.
  • Advising and supporting supervisors and management in the prevention of undesirable behavior.
  • Recording instances of inappropriate behavior.

A confidant always handles employee information confidentially. There is a duty of confidentiality.

Points of attention

  • Depending on the composition of the workforce, a company may choose to appoint multiple confidants. This may include consideration of gender, age or ethnicity, so that the victim can go to someone they feel most comfortable with.
  • Make sure the confidant knows the company well and is easily accessible to employees.
  • Give the confidant a private room that can be locked.
  • In addition to appointing a confidential advisor, it is important that a company has a clear policy against undesirable behavior and sets a good example itself. After all, prevention remains better than curing it.


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