Priscilla de Leede


Priscilla is an expert in dismissal law, expats, and employee participation
+31 20 301 55 55

Jan Dop


Jan is a specialist in employment law and corporate law
+31 20 301 55 55

How far do the works council powers extend?

Publication date 28 September 2023

A works council has various rights. With its rights, the works council can exert a lot of influence on company decisions. Which rights can be considered and how far do these powers reach?

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Right to be consulted and right of consent

The right to be consulted and the right of consent are the best known rights and most important powers of the works council.

  • The right to be consulted means that the entrepreneur must ask the works council for its advice to proposed important decisions of the entrepreneur such as a reorganisation, taking out a substantial loan, transferring (part) of shares of a company or appointment and dismissal of a director. If no advice is sought, the works council can go to the Enterprise Chamber and thus, for example, stop a reorganisation or takeover of the company. So it is time to take the works council seriously. How to be taken seriously as a works council can be read in a previous blog.
  • The right of consent means that the employer must ask the works council for its consent if it intends to adopt, amend or repeal certain schemes. This could include a privacy regulation, a pension regulation or a working time regulation. If the works council is not asked for consent, it can invoke the nullity of a decision. This can therefore prevent the implementation altogether.

Other powers

Works councils also have other rights, such as the right of initiative. It is important not only for entrepreneurs but also for works councils to limit any adverse consequences for the staff and the continuity for the company. If, for example, there is no policy to prevent undesirable behaviour in the workplace or there is no complaints procedure, the works council can use its right of initiative and ensure that certain rules/policies are drawn up for the entrepreneur. Thus the works council can influence the entrepreneur’s policy.

Another right of the works council is the right to ask the court to appoint an expert to bring order to a company. An example of a works council that used the latter power is the works council of Big Bazar. This works council temporarily prevented bankruptcy of the company by filing an application with the court.


With its powers, the works council can therefore actively test the management’s policy, try to influence it and thus represent the interests of employees and the company. As a works council, do not underestimate the scope of your powers and, as an entrepreneur, do not underestimate the influence a works council can have. The works council really matters and (therefore) must be taken seriously.

Works councils lawyer

Do you have any questions about powers of the works council? Or questions about which (strategic) options are possible in a particular case for works council or entrepreneur? Would you like to follow a tailor-made legal course on employee participation in which practical tips are shared? Please contact us:

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