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Works council

Publication date: 4 May 2021
Is there already a works council in your company? Are you a member of your company’s works council? What are the advantages of having a works council in your company? Jan Dop and Priscilla C.X. de Leede explain the role of the works council and give an overview of the works council’s most important rights.


What is a works council?

A works council is the most important employee representative body in a company for safeguarding the rights and interests of employees. A works council plays an important role in the company: It can block important decisions of the entrepreneur, but can also enable reorganization of the company.

When do you need to set up a works council?

Every company with 50 or more employees must have a works council. A works council must also be established in a company with fewer than 50 employees if this is required by a collective agreement. Both the entrepreneur and the employees can take the initiative to set up a works council. Furthermore, each interested party can request the subdistrict court to order the entrepreneur to set up a works council if he does not want to do so.

How to become a works council member?

The members of the works council are elected by all employees of a company who have worked there for six months prior to the election date. The number of works council members depends on the number of employees working within a company. For example, a company with 50 up to 100 employees must at least have 5 members.

In principle, employees who have worked for the company for 1 year prior to the election date are eligible to stand for election. The intention is to reduce these statutory terms for the right to vote and to be electable as a works council member. In this way, also employees with short employment contract are given the opportunity to participate in a works council.

Most important rights

The main rights of the works council are:

  • the right to information, both passive (entrepreneur’s duty of disclosure) and active (on request of the works council);
  • the right to be consulted regarding intended major decisions of the entrepreneur;
  • the right of consent regarding intended decisions to adopt, change or revoke certain regulations/policies;
  • the right of initiative, that gives the works council the opportunity to come up with its own proposals and to participate at an early stage upon its own initiative in discussions on decisions to be taken.

Other rights and powers

The works council has additional rights and powers in order to be able to fulfil its tasks. For instance, the right to free time for mutual consultation and training, continued payment of wages during works council work, and protection from dismissal.

Jan Dop and Priscilla C.X. de Leede are experts in employee representation and employment law at Russell Advocaten. Please contact them if your works council has any legal questions or you need help setting up a works council in your company or your company has any issues related to the works council.

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