Social environment

Social environment

As an employer, the university provides a safe work environment. To that end, it has established a support structure that you can turn to with any questions or problems. This support structure consists of, among others, a confidential counsellor, an arbitration committee and in some cases an ombudsman. The information provided below will tell you which of these you can turn to in what circumstances.

Confidential counsellor

It is the university’s responsibility to protect its employees against undesirable conduct at work (CAO Article 1.12). Such conduct includes: sexual harassment, intimidation, aggression, violence and discrimination. The university has a code of conduct designed to help prevent undesirable conduct. A confidential counsellor is available to support employees who experience undesirable conduct or feel they have been discriminated against.

Arbitration Committee

If you disagree with a decision taken by your line manager, you should engage in dialogue with each other to resolve this. If you are not able to reach agreement on the matter concerned, you can submit the decision to the arbitration committee. The arbitration committee will ultimately advise the Board on a final decision. Both employees and employers are represented in the committee.

The committee will only discuss the case if it concerns one of the following matters:

  • Your performance assessment;
  • A change of your job that has not been discussed with you in advance;
  • Not being promoted to the scale pertaining to the job;
  • Award, refusal, withdrawal or repayment of study facilities;
  • Not being granted permission for ancillary activities;
  • Compliance with agreements relating to salary and the implementation of the individual choices model;
  • Compliance with agreements relating to leave.

More information is provided in the sectoral regulation on disputes.


Some universities have an ombudsman. You can report problems to the latter that are outside the remit of the confidential counsellor or the arbitration committee. Each university will determine what issues the ombudsman can consider and examine. More information on this is available on the relevant page of your own university.

Not all universities currently have an ombudsman of their own yet. It has been agreed in the collective labour agreement (CAO-NU) that each university will appoint an ombudsman before 1 July 2021.

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