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News from the works councils (June 2024)

The work of the works councils is highly diverse and it without exception concerns subjects that are important for employees. In the coming months there is a lot on the agendas of the different works councils as well. Will your team at the NWO-I office be expanded? The Group Works Council of NWO-I (GOR NWO-I) will issue advice about that. Does NWO-I devote sufficient funds to the development of its employees? The GOR NWO-I keeps its finger on the pulse. Will NWO-I be expanded to include a tenth institute? The Central Works Council of NWO (the COR NWO) will advise about the appointment of an external adviser to examine this. Meanwhile, a delegation from the COR NWO is negotiating about several subjects in the Implementing Regulations. This is a selection of subjects currently on the agendas.



Organisational changes NWO-I office

After the process had been put on hold and the request for advice withdrawn concerning the functional domains within the ‘Development Operations programme NWO-I’, the focus shifted to drawing up year plans for these different domains. To safeguard the coherency of the year plans and, when necessary, set priorities, these were extensively discussed in the management team of the NWO-I office and in the BVO (operations meeting that all institute managers participate in).

The Year Plan NWO-I 2024 describes the most important subjects (from the year plans of the different domains) that the entire NWO-I Foundation jointly wants to tackle this year. To realise these ambitions, the NWO-I office needs more personnel. The costs of this expansion will, in 2024, be financed with a one-off withdrawal from the general reserve of the NWO-I office, and from 2025 onwards from structural funding confirmed by the NWO Executive Board in the framework letter 2025.

The GOR NWO-I was asked to issue advice about the intended decision to expand the NWO-I office. This request for advice was discussed on 7 May in the GOR consultative meeting and the GOR NWO-I also posed several questions. As soon as the Executive Board representative has answered these questions, the GOR NWO-I will issue its advice.

Annual Social Report NWO-I and report from the confidential advisers


Expenditure on professional development and sustainable deployability

Each year, the Executive Board representative and the GOR NWO-I discuss the Social Annual Report NWO-I from the previous year. On 7 May, the Social Annual Report 2023 was on the agenda. One of the agenda items concerned the expenditure for the development of employees. The collective labour agreement requires that the annual budget for professional development and sustainable deployability must amount to at least 2% of the salary costs.

In 2023, NWO-I spent 1.2% of the salary costs on, amongst other things, training institutes and remunerations for the professional development of employees, which, just like in previous years, is less than 2%. As in previous annual discussions, the GOR NWO-I posed questions about this to the Executive Board representative, who answered that much of the expenditure related to professional development has not been included in this percentage, such as registration fees for the many (international) work conferences, seminars and part of the travel and accommodation costs. The GOR NWO-I expressed its wish that these figures should be made more transparent. The GOR NWO-I said that it is more important than ever to offer opportunities for development, also in view of the tight labour market.

More reports made to confidential advisers

The Executive Board representative and the GOR NWO-I also discussed the NWO-I Confidential Advisers Report 2023. This report revealed that, compared to 2022, there has been an increase in the number of reports made to confidential advisers. This is in line with the national trend. The number of reports differed per institute. Reports were made to the confidential advisers of all institutes except one. Various publications on this subject suggest that there is no relationship between few reports made to confidential advisers and a socially safe environment. The visibility of the confidential advisers is important. At institutes where active efforts are made to increase the visibility of the confidential advisers, they are approached more often.

PhDs and postdocs

In the report, the confidential advisers describe PhDs and postdocs as a vulnerable group. The Executive Board representative stated that in the coming period, more attention will be paid to PhDs and postdocs in various ways. For this subject, the report from the confidential advisers was in line with the SEP evaluations, which also described the position of PhD students/postdocs as an explicit point of concern. The Executive Board representative reported that at the initiative of several PhDs, and with support from the NWO-I office, a PhD council was recently established that will act as a communication platform for all NWO-I PhDs and will be able to address subjects such as social safety and how to contact confidential advisers.

Leadership qualities

The GOR NWO-I agrees with the recommendation from the confidential advisers that attention should be devoted to the leadership qualities of all line managers. Within NWO-I, training, coaching and intervision of, and among, line managers is not organised in a uniform manner, but per organisation unit instead. This subject also touches upon ‘Recognition and Rewards’ and ‘Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion’.

At present, NWO-I is taking stock of how leadership is described in the various plans. This summary will then be submitted to the directors meeting and ratified by them so that there exists a clear picture of the current situation. After the summer, the portfolio holder ‘Healthy research culture’ from the NWO-I office will be invited to further expand on leadership within NWO-I.

Audit GDPR

On 7 May, Francis Bouman, Head Internal Audit of NWO, presented the outcomes of the GDPR compliance audit and the associated recommendations. The recommendations focus on both technical issues and awareness among NWO-I employees. Concerning GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the GOR NWO-I has the right to approval of a regulation for the use of personnel data (for example, registration of absence due to illness, the salary administration and data in the personnel files) and the right to approval of a regulation for a personnel tracking system (for example, a system that records attendances, time and access, but also a system that supports the handling of operations). The GOR NWO-I considers it very important to remain informed about GDPR-related subjects.



Request for advice on appointment external adviser HFML-FELIX

Previously, the Executive Board representative had already informed the COR NWO about exploring the collaboration between NWO-I and Radboud University concerning HFML-FELIX. It was explored whether several parties could jointly fund HFML-FELIX as a research institute. The exploratory phase had a positive conclusion. Therefore, it will now be examined whether HFML-FELIX can be included in the institute portfolio of NWO-I. An external adviser will be appointed for this follow-up study. As this commission is a clear step towards a later request for advice, the COR NWO has been requested to provide advice.

The Executive Board representative asked us for advice about hiring in the same adviser as for the exploratory phase due to the positive experiences in the exploratory phase, and the enthusiasm created among possible partners. During the COR consultative meeting of 13 June, the COR NWO discussed the request for advice with the Executive Board representative, and this advice is expected soon.

Mid-term Implementing Regulation negotiations

The current Implementing Regulations (IR) are in force until 1 January 2026. However, during the course of this period, mid-term negotiations will take place on at least the following subjects:

  • performance appraisal interviews;
  • adjustment of the whistleblower regulation in response to new legislation;
  • changes to the IR if a decision is taken to appoint an ombudsman;
  • the size of remuneration payments in the IR;
  • the outcomes of the pilot for exploring the lease bike.

The interim negotiations have started and the two delegations (on behalf of the Executive Board representative and the COR NWO) have already spoken to each other on several occasions. For NWO-I and NWO-D, two separate regulations are being drafted for the performance appraisal interviews but (at the insistence and persistence of the COR NWO) with shared basic principles. The COR NWO considers it very important that all NWO and NWO-I employees regularly talk with their line manager about their current work and possibilities for future development.

In 2022, the COR NWO already indicated that the introduction of an ombudsman would be a powerful step towards making it easier and more effective to report undesirable and unsafe social situations and render these discussable. The Executive Board representative and the COR NWO subsequently appointed a joint workgroup to investigate the added value of an ombudsman. In March of this year, the workgroup advised appointing an ombudsman (on a pilot basis) and identifying how this appointment relates to current regulations, positions and roles. The workgroup also advised providing more insight into these existing regulations, positions and roles. Now, it is up to the Executive Board representative and the COR NWO to discuss this advice during the negotiations.

Confidental Infomation