This week, the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) facilitated a digital masterclass by
occupational health experts Joanne Siebel of Medwork and Annemieke Kirch of Vertrouwen In Bedrijf”
(VIB) on the importance of appointing and coaching internal “Confidential Counselors” or “CC” within

The course was a summary of an elaborate certification program of both companies starting on St.
Maarten this fall, a course and certification already familiar on Aruba and Bonaire. Appointing a
Confidential Counselor in an organization is a globally growing phenomenon, serving to counter
unwanted behavior within organizations.

Did you know that; one in six of all employees experience unwanted behavior. One third of all sick leave
is caused by unwanted behavior on the work floor. This can be amongst others unwanted physical or
sexual harassment, bullying, fraud or discrimination.

Managers or Human Relation persons are often not the persons to turn to in such a situation, given the
relation of power these functions yield over the employee. This is why companies appoint a Confidential
Counselor either within or outside the organization.

The St. Maarten law obliges under the Civil Code article 1614 the responsibility of an employer to be a
good employer and to create a safe work environment. The burden on the employee under article 1615
is to be a good employee. A safe working environment however is an important, but fragile context for
both employers and employees to excel on the work floor.

Kirch: “From time to time, everyone is guilty of unwanted behavior, usually unconsciously or without
bad intentions. Talking about this is the only way of solving such behavior. Appointing a confidential
counselor is important to promote a healthy working environment and solve these challenges”.
Unwanted behavior can also relate to integrity. The expert stated “Integrity is a question of norms and
values. These vary from person to person. Is an internal gift of 50 dollars, or even 200 acceptable within
an organization? For the one this could be commonplace, for someone else an awkward gesture. So,
even if the law does not oblige us to have a policy it creates awareness, provide direction and upholds
the company’s values and norms.

In October, Medwork and VIB are bringing a professional Confidential Counselor course to St. Maarten.
Based on previous editions of this joint program on Aruba and Bonaire, research was done that 30% of
employees felt bullied, 36% intimidated. 35% is scared to tell about their experiences. In 25% of the
cases unwanted behavior came from management.

SHTA is grateful for the experts and their masterclass for its membership. Subscription for the Medwork
/ VIB multi – day training to become a certified Confidential Counselor this fall has opened
via The course also serves to recertify those who are already in possession of a

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