Preventing workplace psychosocial hazards: the psychosocial hazards prevention adviser

Auteur: Catherine Mairy
Datum:

Since 1 September 2014, extensive changes have been brought in to the rules on violence, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace. The aim is to put in place a general framework for preventing workplace psychosocial hazards.

Two intervening parties play a particularly important role in the prevention of workplace psychosocial hazards:

  • on the one hand, the psychosocial hazards prevention adviser;
  • and, on the other hand, the confidential counsellor.

If workers consider that they have sustained psychological harm, which may also be accompanied by physical harm, arising out of workplace psychosocial hazards including violence, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace, they can appeal to the psychosocial hazards prevention adviser or to the confidential counsellor if there is one.

This Infoflash briefly reviews the rules regarding the designation and the status of the psychosocial hazards prevention adviser.

The rules regarding the designation and the status of the confidential counsellor are covered in a following Infoflash.

Reminder! The employment regulations must be adapted by 28 February 2015 and must include the following:

  • the procedures which are directly accessible to the worker who considers that he has sustained harm;
  • the contact details of the psychosocial hazards prevention adviser or the service for prevention and protection at work for which this adviser carries out his duties, and the contact details of the designated confidential counsellor if there is one.

Rules regarding the designation of the psychosocial hazards prevention adviser

Every employer must have a prevention adviser who is specialised in the psychosocial aspects of work including violence, bullying and sexual harassment at work (= compulsory psychosocial hazards prevention adviser).

This psychosocial hazards prevention adviser forms part of:

  • either the external service for prevention and protection at work (SEPPT) that the employer is signed up to;
  • or the internal service for prevention and protection at work (SIPPT) that was set up in the company

and this (particularly) on the basis of the number of workers employed by the employer.

The employer employs less than 50 workers

When he employs less than 50 workers, the employer is obliged to appeal to a psychosocial hazards prevention adviser who is part of the SEPPT (= external prevention adviser).

The employer employs 50 workers and more

When he employs at least 50 workers, the employer can designate a psychosocial hazards prevention adviser who is part of the SIPPT (= internal prevention adviser bound to the employer by a contract of employment) after the prior agreement of all the members representing the workers within the committee for prevention and protection at work (CPPT) or, failing that, of the trade union delegation or, failing that, of the workers.

If no prior agreement is reached, the employer must seek the opinion of the Directorate of the Inspectorate of Well-being at Work provided that the terms laid down by the Royal Decree of 10 April 2014 on the prevention of workplace psychosocial hazards are observed.

Following that opinion and, in the case of persistent disagreement, the employer has to appeal to a psychosocial hazards prevention adviser who is part of the SEPPT.

NB! The psychosocial hazards prevention adviser enjoys special protection in case of termination of his/her agreement and in case of removal from his/her post.

Training

Whether he belongs to the SEPPT or the SIPPT, the psychosocial hazards prevention adviser, who is in charge of the duties and tasks concerning the prevention of workplace psychosocial hazards, must comply with the following conditions:

  • he is "holder of a diploma of university or of a diploma of higher education at university level with a curriculum including an important part of subjects such as psychology and sociology and in addition a first specialisation in the domains of work and organization";
  • "who supplies proof of having terminated successfully a multidisciplinary basic training and a specialisation module psychosocial aspects of work including violence, bullying and sexual harassment at work, referred to in the Royal Decree of 5 December 2003 on the skills of the prevention advisers of the SEPPT";
  • "who has, in addition, five years proven experience in the area of the psychosocial aspects of work".

Incompatibilities

The psychosocial hazards prevention adviser may not:

  • simultaneously occupy a position as a prevention adviser with responsibility for healthcare in the workplace;
  • if he is a member of the SIPPT, be part of the management staff; "management staff" is understood to mean persons responsible for the day-to-day management of the company, who are authorised to represent and bind the employer, and the members of staff, who are directly subordinate to these persons if they also carry out day-to-day management tasks.

The prevention adviser of the SIPPT who was designated before 16 June 2007 in application of the Royal Decree of 11 July 2002 on the protection against violence, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace may, under certain conditions, continue to occupy a position as psychosocial hazards prevention adviser.

The person who was designated as prevention adviser specialised in the psychosocial aspects of work before 1 September 2014 may also continue to occupy this position even if he is part of the management staff.

To be continued..., watch this space!

Sources: Act of 28 February 2014 supplementing the Act of 4 August 1996 on the well-being of workers in the performance of their work as regards the prevention of psychosocial hazards at work, including violence, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace, Moniteur belge of 28 April 2014; Royal Decree of 10 April 2014 on the prevention of workplace psychosocial hazards, Moniteur belge of 28 April 2014; in French on the website of the FPS Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue, heading "Thèmes/Bien-être au travail/Charge psychosociale" (www.emploi.belgique).  

Auteur: Catherine Mairy

06/10/2014