About 25% of Dutch workers bullied, assaulted

. Source: Wikipedia

About a quarter of Dutch workers are being bullied at work. This involves verbal- and sometimes even physical attacks. Employers are not doing enough to protect their staff members.

This is according to a study done by TNO, AD reports. Sectors that are most affected by bullying include healthcare, housing and retail.

A total of 1.6 million employees have to deal with aggression and violence in the workplace at least once a year, according to TNO researcher Seth van den Bossche. This includes customers, passengers, patients or pupils attacking employees. This is done in a number of manners, including verbal attacks, spitting, kicking, assaulting or even attacking with a weapon.

Most cases involve verbal abuse. But the consequences can still be severe. Victims experience more stress, suffer from burnout-like symptoms and can even develop long-term illnesses. The TNO study found that aggression and violence in the workplace leads to 2.9 million sick days per year, costing an estimated 600 million euros in sick leave.

"This is a substantial and persistent problem that can be reduced with focused attention", Van den Bossche said to the newspaper, adding that it is often underestimated.

On Monday Minister Lodewijk Asscher had a meeting with 16 companies in Amsterdam. These companies included Hema, NS, ING, GVB, Holland Casino, The Hague municipality and the ambulance service. He called on them to share more about their experiences and approaches to bullying with other companies in an effort to reduce this problem.

"Verbal abuse does not make it less bad, it stays violence. If we find it normal that train staff is spit upon, then we find ourselves on a slippery slope", the Deputy Prime Minister said. "It appears that a well-coordinated approach works; the number of more serious incidents are decreasing. I find that encouraging and we must continue to build on that."