Bullying, harassment, and discrimination are still very common in the workplace. This can have a severe impact on you. What can you do to tackle bullying at work?
Bullying is demeaning, hostile, or intimidating behaviour towards the same person or group. You cannot properly defend yourself as a victim. The bullies often have more power than the victim. The behaviour is repeated and prolonged. You cannot properly do your work. There is no job satisfaction at all. It can cause (physical) complaints.
The victim is unable to defend themself and the bully or group of bullies has more power than the victim.
Harassment can be physical or psychological, for example words in emails or other messages. You feel threatened. Sexual harassment does not always involve physical contact. Comments, unwanted questions about your private life, or gestures can also be annoying or threatening. Harassment can be verbal, non-verbal, or physical. Sexual harassment includes intimate questions about your private life, sexually explicit comments, for example about your body or clothing, or even blackmail, or assault.
Make it clear straight away that it is unwanted. Set your own boundaries.
Discrimination involves a distinction being drawn between people. You are treated differently from your colleague because of, for example, your religion, race, gender, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age.
Making a distinction between people is not always discrimination. If someone without a driving licence applies for a job as a truck driver and does not get the job, this is not discrimination. It would be discrimination if this person was not accepted because they were, for example, a Muslim, or a woman.
According to the Dutch Working Conditions Act (Arbowet), your employer must adopt a policy so that there is no bullying in the company. The requirements for that policy are set out in the Working Conditions Decree (Arbobesluit). If your employer does not do enough against bullying, they are in violation of the law. Compliance with the Dutch Working Conditions Act is monitored by the Health and Safety Inspectorate (Inspectorate SZW, which will be called the Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie (NLA)) from 1 January 2022).
Is your employer not doing enough to combat bullying? Could you use some support or advice? Call the health and safety advice desk (Arbo-Adviespunt). You can contact us if you have a question about working healthily and safely, for example, about an industrial accident, work pressure, or safety by Ask your question by telephone on 088 – 368 06 09 (Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm).
You can also ask your question by email by completing this form. We will do our best to answer your questions within a few working days.
We have a separate form for questions about pressure at work:
Do you have any other questions? This might be about occupational diseases, membership, dismissal, or your CAO (collective labour agreement). Please contact us via the Contact Centre.
Bullying is often related to how people in a company treat each other. Characteristics of a business culture without bullying:
Do you suspect wrongdoings with temporary agency work? Report it to the Inspectorate SZW.
Would you like advice on discrimination, racism, (sexual) harassment, bullying, or other undesired behaviour in the workplace? Or just a listening ear? Call the confidential telephone on working days between 7 pm and 9.30 pm or send an email.