Social safety

It is important that together you ensure that everyone feels safe in the workplace. There are also laws and regulations for that. If anything goes wrong, however, there are various ways to raise that. Make sure you are well informed about what the best steps are in your situation.

Power relationships

There are various power relationships in every work situation. If they are very unequal, that may encourage transgressive behaviour. It is good to be aware of that, so that you can recognise this and intervene. Casting directors, curators, programmers, but also teachers in arts education, for example, act as gatekeepers. They select from a large pool of talent. That quickly leads to unequal power relationships. On top of that, it is common to work with self-employed professionals or short-term employment contracts. This job insecurity makes it more difficult to report abuses. Furthermore, physical contact in the performing arts and film is sometimes part of the work. Social safety therefore deserves extra attention.

Legislation and regulations

Due to the right to equal treatment and protection against intimidation, discrimination and sexual violence, the Netherlands has drawn up legislation in different codes of law: in the Criminal Code, the Civil Code and administrative law. The foundation is formed by the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution: the prohibition of discrimination and the principle of equality.

In terms of content, this is fleshed out in, among other places, the Working Conditions Act, various articles in criminal law and legislation in the field of equal treatment. This legislation applies to employers, employees and self-employed professionals.

The Working Conditions Act deals with preventing or limiting ‘psychosocial work stress’. Psychosocial work stress is stress or sub-optimal performance that is caused by, for example, bullying, aggression, violence, discrimination and/or sexual intimidation in the workplace.


Organisations are required to take good care of their staff. That means that there must be policy too prevent bullying, violence, discrimination, aggression and sexual intimidation. Examples include drawing up a code of conduct, a complaints procedure and appointing a confidential adviser. Prevention is extremely important, but a code of conduct only helps if this is observed. Training courses for all employees or extra training of supervisors can help with that.

If you employ staff yourself or if you work intensively with other self-employed professionals, research what you can or must do. Ask for information from your trade association, refer to your collective labour agreement or take a look at the Working Conditions Act. In addition, the Fair Practice Code and the Diversity & Inclusion Code, among others, are applied in the cultural sector. These include desirable behaviour, guidelines and many tips.

Information, advice and guidance

What can you do if you don’t feel safe or if your rights are violated? There are many paths that can be explored, even several simultaneously or consecutively. It is important that you know which options you have and that there is free help for information, advice and guidance.

Internal handling
You can contact the confidential adviser within your organisation or lodge a complaint via the complaints procedure. You can also look up what your organisation’s collective labour agreement specifies about complaint handling. If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your complaint, you can often appeal against that via your trade association.

The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights
If you have a complaint, you can also request an opinion from the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. You can submit your request in order to assess your situation. This is free. You can also obtain a lot of information from this organisation as a policymaker, employer or client.

Reporting centres
If you take the matter to a reporting centre (such as Mores, the disclosure office for undesirable behaviour in the Dutch cultural and creative sectors, or the Disclosure office for discrimination), they will look together with you if the complaint falls under criminal law or civil law, and they will help you, if necessary, with submitting a request to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. You can also ask them for advice.