Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects
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All employers must have a Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects.
This person may be part of either the internal service or the external service for prevention and protection at work to which the employer is affiliated.
This is an expert with the authority to issue advices to the employer and the workers.
Employers with fewer than 50 workers must use a Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects from an external service for prevention and protection at work.
It is considered very difficult to have the necessary expertise within small companies.
Furthermore, the closeness of the interpersonal links in SMEs can be a barrier to the effective performance of the tasks of a Prevention Advisor if they are part of the internal service.
The external service will be the one which the company already uses to perform their duties in the context of the general well-being at work policy, such as health monitoring.
The internal bodies of the external service will choose the appropriate Prevention Advisor.
All the trade union delegation, or otherwise all the workers employed by the employer may request or ensure the replacement of this person if they no longer trust them.
After consultation with the Committee, employers with more than 50 workers must decide whether the tasks attributed to the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects will be carried out by the Prevention Advisor from the internal service or whether an external service will be used.
If the employer decides to use an internal Prevention Advisor, prior agreement on the designation of this person must be obtained from all the members who represent workers within the Committee.
If this agreement cannot be obtained, the employer must request the advice of the Well-being at Work inspection service, which will first attempt to reconcile the parties.
If they cannot do so, the Supervision of Well-being at Work inspection service issues an advice that the employer must convey to the Committee. If no agreement is reached following the advice, the employer must use a Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects from an external service.
If the employer decides to use an external service, they must increase the tasks of the service to which they are already affiliated or join such a service. The internal bodies of the external service will choose the appropriate Prevention Advisor.
All the workers' representatives on the Committee, or the trade union delegation, or otherwise all the workers employed by the employer may request or ensure the replacement of this person if they no longer trust them.
The contact details of the designated Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects or the external prevention service for which they work must be written in the work regulations and in a place that is easily accessible to workers (poster, intranet, etc.).
To be able to perform the role of Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects, whether in an internal service or an external service, the person must meet the following three conditions:
- obtained a university diploma or a university level higher education diploma whose curriculum includes a significant proportion of psychology and sociology (e.g. a master’s degree in psychology, sociology, criminology, labour sciences, etc.) and an initial specialisation in work and organisation;
- successfully completed basic multidisciplinary training and a specialisation model in the psychosocial aspects of work. The basic multidisciplinary training lasts at least 120 hours, spread over the course of one year. The specialisation module in the psychosocial aspects of work comprises a minimum of 280 hours, spread over the course of one or two years, and must be taken at university or college;
- prove five years' relevant practical experience in the psychosocial aspects of work. This experience may be acquired under the supervision of a Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects appointed as such in a company or institution cannot perform the role of Prevention Advisor-occupational physician in the same company or institution.
Indeed, any occupational physician is responsible for making a declaration of inability to work during a medical examination. This could compromise the necessary trust that the worker must have in the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects. This could have the consequence of making it difficult for the worker to ask them to intervene in a situation involving, for example, harassment at work.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects cannot be part of the management personnel.
Management personnel are defined as the persons responsible for day-to-day management, who have the power to represent and commit the employer (i.e. perform legal acts on behalf of the employer), and members of the personnel directly subordinate to these persons when they also perform day-to-day management duties.
Day-to-day management is effective, daily, autonomous and permanent management throughout the company or a part of it.
These are the two highest levels in the hierarchy of the company structure responsible for day-to-day management. In companies where social elections take place, the persons who are part of the management personnel are on a specific list.
Performing a management role may harm the autonomy required to act as a confidential counsellor. They could have the tendency to use the information they receive as a confidential counsellor as part of their management duties.
The concept of management personnel is not the same as that of line management. Line management means management at both the higher and the lower level, from the manager to the team leader, who can give orders to their subordinates. This concept covers all management levels in the company hierarchy and, in other words, is broader than the concept of management personnel. A member of the line management may therefore act as the confidential counsellor, provided that they are not part of the management personnel.
Moreover, any Prevention Advisor who is an employee of the company cannot be:
- an employer delegate or an workers’ delegate to the works council or Committee;
- a candidate in the social elections.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects is responsible for all psychosocial risks at work, both formally and informally.
Their tasks are:
- to assist the employer in the initial risk analysis;
- to provide an advice on the preventive measures that result from the initial risk analysis;
- to assist the employer in evaluating the preventive measures;
- to assist the employer in assessing the risks in a specific work situation and giving an advice on the resulting preventive measures;
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects performs the above tasks automatically if they are part of an internal service and only if the complexity of the case requires it if they are part of an external service.
- to handle informal requests for psychosocial intervention by workers, primarily through interviews, interventions with another person in the company or reconciliation;
- to handle formal requests for psychosocial intervention by workers;
- to refer to the Well-being at Work inspection service in certain specific cases when violence or moral or sexual harassment are involved;
- to open and update an individual dossier;
- to regularly consult the confidential counsellor;
- to provide the Prevention Advisor of the internal service with the anonymous data required for the drafting of the annual report of the internal service.
- to draw conclusions from repeated psychosocial incidents that have been the subject of an informal request for psychosocial intervention and send these collectively and anonymously to the employer at least once a year for the evaluation of the psychosocial risk prevention policy;
- to give an advice on the choice of specialised services or institutions that provide psychological support to workers who have suffered third-party violence;
- to help to prepare the internal procedure, where appropriate;
- where appropriate, to keep the register of third-party facts;
Consult the page " What is the content of all the basic services for group D or C- employers?" for a description of the tasks included in the fixed fee paid to the external service by a group C employer who does not have within their internal service a Prevention Advisor who has successfully completed additional level I or II training, or a Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects, and by a group D employer.
All Prevention Advisors have specific legal protection so that they can perform that role independently of the employer and the workers.
The employer can only terminate the employment contract of the Prevention Advisor, end their statutory employment (if they are a civil servant) or remove them from their position for reasons other than their independence or reasons that demonstrate that they are not competent to perform their role, and subject to compliance with the procedure set out in the law of 20 December 2002 on the protection of Prevention Advisors.
The Prevention Advisor has the right to compensation in the event of the irregular termination of their working relationship or dismissal.
The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects is bound by professional secrecy. They cannot therefore reveal to third parties any identifiable information brought to their attention during the performance of their duties.
There are several exceptions to this principle:
- To allow them to manage this informal psychosocial intervention as best they can, the legislation authorises the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects to send information that they consider relevant for the smooth running of this psychosocial intervention to third parties.
- In the handling of a formal request for psychosocial intervention, the legislation sets out various exceptions to professional secrecy, including to allow the Counsellor to complete their tasks (for example, they must send their advice to the employer, notify the parties of the proposed measures put forward to the employer, etc.).
- The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects may exchange information that is strictly necessary for the performance of their duties with the confidential counsellor (even without the agreement of the worker).
- The Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects may exchange the information they consider necessary with the Prevention Advisor-occupational physician so that the appropriate measures can be taken with respect to a worker, provided that this worker has given their consent to this exchange in writing.
- They can decide whether or not to convey the information relating to their position when they are called on to testify before an investigating judge or a court judge.
- They must make available to the Supervision of Well-being at Work inspection service the documents from the individual formal request dossier, including the declarations by the persons interviewed.
- They must make available to the public Ministry (including the labour inspectorate) the documents from the individual formal request dossier, including the declarations by the persons interviewed, provided that these persons have given their consent to this in the declaration.
- 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.