In de laatste cao-wo staat dat elke universiteit een ombudsman moet hebben om klachten af te handelen.
In de laatste cao-wo staat dat elke universiteit een ombudsman moet hebben om klachten af te handelen.

Beeld: Typetank

‘Ombudsman contributes to security’

In one year's time, all Dutch universities must have an ombudsman to deal with staff complaints. This is part of the new collective labour agreement for universities.

Lies Poesiat has been an ombudsman for fifteen years, first at the University of Amsterdam and since 2007 at the Free University. She handles forty to fifty cases a year for employees who feel they have been treated inappropriately or unfairly. The complaints mainly concern poor communication, problems with functioning and with assessment of employees, and difficult cooperation.

Problems often have their origin in the style of leadership, according to Poesiat.
In most cases, all that complainants want is information about rights and obligations or informal advice and matter are usually solved within one or two weeks. But if it comes to a formal complaint, an ombudsman can deal with it himself. Ombudsmen can conduct their own investigations, request documents and formulate recommendations for the organisation.

‘We can prevent legal escalation’


The role of the Ombudsman is therefore different from that of the confidential counsellors. “Confidential counsellors are advocates for the complainants. An Ombudsman is independent and impartial and analyses the complaints in order to identify patterns in complaints”
An advisory interview with an Ombudsman remains confidential. “We have a duty of confidentiality. That is why complaints come to us at an early stage.” That is the added value of the Ombudsman. “Ombudsmen can prevent legal escalation and prevent complaints developing into unnecessary prolonged labour conflict resulting in absenteeism due to illness.”

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