In 1977 Utrecht University appointed the first Confidential Staff Counsellor. At present, Paul Herfs holds this position, which is now called Staff Ombudsman. The purpose of the position is described as follows: “Providing independent support to individual members of staff, groups of staff and/or managers in analyzing and solving complaints and grievances relating to HR issues, where possible referring to the appropriate bodies within or outside Utrecht University, highlighting systematic shortcomings in regulations or organizational provision.”
The staff ombudsman observes professional secrecy: nobody will be informed about who visited the staff ombudsman, unless the client has given permission to do so. PhD candidates can discuss their problems with the staff ombudsman without anyone else knowing about their contact. PhD Candidates can discuss some sensitive and confidential issues such as performance review, dismissal issues, problems affecting PhD candidates, working conditions, returning to work after chronic illness and clashes with colleagues. The PhD candidate and the staff ombudsman can together try to find a solution for the problem concerned.
Paul Herfs’ office is located at the Spinoza Hall (kamer 0.01), Kriekenpitplein 18, 3584 EC Utrecht. You can contact him by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling his direct telephone number: 030-2539988.