Sexual harassment, intimidation, physical violence and bullying are problems experienced by one in four people while at work, according to a new survey on working conditions.
Women have to cope with inappropriate behaviour twice as often as men, and people working in the care services were most likely to face problems, the survey found.
In total, 43% of people working in healthcare said they had been bullied, threatened or propositioned, usually by patients. Care workers union NU’91 said people who work in nursing homes or community care services are ‘literally close to their patients, for instance when they wash people.
‘Some clients will see this as a licence to act inappropriately,’ a union spokesman told broadcaster NOS. People with dementia may also exhibit this type of behaviour, he said.
The union said training courses will have to pay more attention to helping staff cope. ‘We need to prepare young people for this because patients single them out to see how far they can go,’ he said.
Employers must also inform staff about the existing protocols concerning sexual intimidation by patients, he said.
In total, one in five women under the age of 26 reported being sexually harassed at work, either by a colleague, customer or pupil. This twice the national average.
Some 50,000 workers between the ages of 15 to 75 from all sectors participated in the annual survey. It covers work safety and employment relationships and conditions and is conducted by statistics agency CBS and the TNO research institute on behalf of the social affairs ministry.
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