Handling of a mainly individual request
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Information for the employer
If the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects considers that the request is mainly individual in nature, they inform the employer in writing that the request has been submitted. They also inform the employer of the worker's identity.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects examines the specific work situation of the applicant completely impartially.
As part of this examination, they may interview any persons they consider appropriate. The information that these persons provide may be included in a dated and signed declaration of which they will receive a copy. These written declarations are not compulsory, and the declarant may remain anonymous. However, they allow the inspection service and the labour inspectorate to check the quality of the Prevention Advisor's work. The declarant must explicitly give their written consent in their declaration for the Supervision of Well-being at Work inspection service to be able to access it; the inspection service has direct access. Under no circumstances do these declarations authorise the Prevention Advisor to reveal the identity of the declarant in their advice.
When drafting their advice, the Prevention Advisor must consider all the information collected from the persons interviewed, whether or not it is included in a signed declaration. It falls within their professional responsibility to carry out an exhaustive analysis that takes account of all the information collected, so that the employer is able to take the appropriate measures to end the harm. The quality of the analysis cannot be made to depend on the signature of the declarations by the interviewed persons.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects drafts an advice after examining the work situation. This advice contains the following information:
- a description of the request and its context;
- the identification of the dangers for the applicant and for all the workers;
Danger is the intrinsic property of a situation of having harmful consequences or threatening the health or safety of one or more workers. Danger must be distinguished from risk, which involves the probability that the harmful consequences or threat will occur. For example, in a situation relating to a high workload, the high workload may be considered as the danger. The risk is the probability that this high workload will lead to negative consequences for the workers, for example symptoms of stress.
- the elements that have a positive or negative influence on the risk situation, including in the work organisation, the content of the work, the working conditions, living conditions at work, and interpersonal relations at work;
In the example of a high workload, one positive element could be the support of line management. The negative elements could be the lack of planning, and the lack of training given to workers. However, these positive and negative factors can also be found at the individual level. These individual factors include the individual characteristics of the position in which the applicant finds themselves (for example, they are the only one to not have had training) as well as the specific individual characteristics of the applicant (for example, the fact that they are much more sensitive to stress than the average worker).
- the previous steps taken to eliminate the danger and limit the harm, if there were any;
- the proposed collective and individual preventive measures relating to the specific work situation, and the justifications for these proposals;
- the proposed collective preventive measures to prevent a repetition in other specific work situations, and the justifications for these proposals;
The aim of this document, available in French and Dutch is to offer a practical explanation of the drafting of an advice by the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects as part of a formal psychosocial intervention at individual level :
- in French: Avis par le conseiller en prévention psychosociaux dans le cadre d’une intervention psychosociale formelle à caractère individuel (PDF, 394.86 KB);
- in Dutch: Adviesverslag in het kader van een formele psychosociale interventie met een individueel karakter (PDF, 406.51 KB).
The aim of the advice is to inform the employer about the situation and the most appropriate measures to take. It is equivalent to an expert advice. The employer is therefore not obliged to follow it or take the measures proposed by the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects.
The employer, who is responsible for the well-being of workers while they perform their work, is however obliged, in virtue of the law, to take measures to end the harm to the worker.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects submits their advice to the employer within three months of the acceptance of the request.
If it is impossible for the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects to respect this deadline, they must send the reasons (for example, the large number of people to be interviewed, sick leave) in writing to the employer, the applicant and any other person directly involved (in the event of a relationship problem).
They may extend the three-month deadline once by an additional period of a maximum of three months.
It is possible for the working relationship between employer and the applicant to end during the course of the analysis. However, this does not mean that the examination of the request ends. The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects will examine the collective and individual factors that influenced the occurrence of the psychosocial problem and submit their advice to the employer. On this basis, the employer must take measures to eliminate the danger in the specific situation (particularly with regard to any other person involved) and prevent any recurrence in other work situations in order to improve the prevention of psychosocial risks within their company.
By the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects
- To the confidential counsellor
With the agreement of the applicant, the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects transmits their advice to the confidential counsellor if this person was involved informally in the same situation.
This means that the trust a person is also made aware of the actions taken in the situation in which they were involved and can consider this during any future interventions.
- To the parties
The Prevention Advisor psychosocial risks informs the applicant and any other person directly involved (in the event of a relationship problem) of the date on which they submitted their advice to the employer.
The Counsellor also informs them of the proposed collective and individual preventive measures that could be taken with regard to the specific work situation.
The communication of the proposals is not limited to the persons benefitting from these measures. Each party must receive all the proposed measures, whether they affect them personally or not. This information allows the parties to understand how the situation and behaviour of the other party has been objectively assessed, on one hand, and to have a way of assessing the employer's reaction to these proposals, on the other. This information will make it easier to evaluate the opportunity to submit an appeal to the inspection service based primarily on the advice of the Prevention Advisor.
They also include the reasons behind these proposals.
However, the parties do not necessarily receive all the reasons behind the measures, contained in the advice; the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects adapts the reasons depending on the recipient. The Counsellor only sends those reasons that facilitate the understanding of the situation and the acceptance of the outcome of the procedure by the recipient. It may be the case that the reasons heighten the antagonism rather than appease it.
It is important that these persons can access this information related to their situation and provided by an expert. This gives them a more objective view of the situation.
The preventive measures concerning practical solutions and their reasoning offer an explanation of why these measures were chosen.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects must provide this information as soon as possible after submitting their advice to the employer; this means as soon as possible after the maximum three-month period (extendable once by a maximum of three months) after acceptance of the request. The legislation does not therefore stipulate a specific deadline.
- To the Prevention Advisor responsible for the internal service
If the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects is part of an external service for prevention and protection at work, they send the Prevention Advisor responsible for the internal service, in writing, the proposed preventive measures relating to the specific work situation and the proposals for preventing a repetition in other work situations.
They also provide the reasons behind these proposals where these are necessary for the Prevention Advisor from the internal service to perform their coordination role.
By the employer
The employer is not subject to professional secrecy, as the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects is. However, the Counsellor’s advice contains personal data whose processing is limited by the conditions contained in the legislation on the protection of privacy in the processing of personal data. This data must be processed in a way that is compatible with the purpose of the processing, and only the appropriate and relevant data with regard to this purpose can be provided.
The Well-being Act applies this principle, stating that the employer may send the applicant's line manager only the information from the advice of the Prevention Advisor that is necessary for the implementation of the measures to be taken in the specific situation.
The aim of the precautionary measures is to provisionally stabilise the situation before the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects submits their advice to the employer.
There is no obligation to propose precautionary measures in a formal request for psychosocial intervention that is mainly individual in nature and does not involve acts of violence, or moral or sexual harassment at work.
If the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects considers it necessary, while waiting for the fall analysis of the situation, they can always propose precautionary measures that make the situation more bearable for the applicant in the meantime.
However, this is not an explicit legal obligation, but can result from the application of the principle of precaution and foresight.
If the employer plans to take individual measures with regard to a worker, they must inform them of these measures in advance, in writing, within one month of receiving the advice of the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects.
If these measures change the worker's working conditions, the employer must send them a copy of the full advice of the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects.
Forcing a worker to take training cannot be considered a change to their working conditions, for example. A change to their position or workplace is, however, a change to their working conditions.
The employer must interview the worker (who can be accompanied by the person of their choice) before taking these measures.
The employer must provide their reasoned decision on the actions to be taken as a result of the request, in writing, within two months of receiving the advice of the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects, to the following persons:
- the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects;
- the Prevention Advisor responsible for the internal service for prevention and protection at work if the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects is part of the external service for prevention and protection at work.
- the applicant and any other person directly involved.
The parties must receive the full decision of the employer, i.e. all the measures to be taken with regard to all the parties.
In this way, the parties can check which measures the employer has decided to take from those proposed by the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects, and whether their decision offers an appropriate solution to the specific work situation. This allows the parties to assess the opportunity to appeal to the Supervision of Well-being at Work inspection service if they believe that the employer's decision is not appropriate.
However, the employer's decision may contain personal data whose processing is limited by the conditions contained in the legislation on the protection of privacy in respect to the processing of personal data. This data must be processed in a way that is compatible with the purpose of the processing, and only the appropriate and relevant data with regard to this purpose can be provided. The employer will notify the parties of their decision in compliance with these principles, for example by avoiding any private considerations or judgement relating to the persons mentioned.
- Firstly, with the prevention advisor of the internal and/or external service for prevention and protection at work.
- Secondly, with the competent regional directorate for Supervision of Well-being at Work.
- Questions on the interpretation of the legislation: in writing to the Directorate-General for Humanisation of Labour.