Works Council

Russell Advocaten helps you have a say, even when things get legally complicated

As a works council, you have an important part in participating in the decision making that can have major consequences for employees. As complex legal issues can be involved, it will be good to bring in specialist assistance. Our lawyers can provide you with this kind of assistance.

Do you, as a works council, need legal advice?

Please contact us by phone at +31 20 301 55 55 or by e-mail.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our clients often ask the following questions. Do you have any other questions or would you like to submit a dispute to us? Call us at +31 20 301 55 55 without obligation or send us an e-mail.

  • Other rights

    • What does works councils’ right to take initiative involve?

      The works council doesn’t need to just react on advice or consent requests by the director but it can also take initiatives. The works council can point out subjects for discussion to the director both during and outside consultation meetings. The director will then be required to consult with the works council about the subjects.

      If the works council has addressed the subject outside the consultation meeting, the director will have to notify the works council as quickly as possible about what the director intends to do in response to the initiative. By means of this still rarely-exercised right the works council can play an active role.

    • When is the works council entitled to information, and to what information is it entitled?

      First of all, the works council has a passive right to information. That means, the entrepreneur has to provide certain information upon his own initiative. For instance, the director has to provide the works council with an annual report.

      Besides, the director has to provide the works council with information when submitting a request for advice or consent. This includes in any event:

      • The grounds for the decision
      • The expected effects of the decision on the personnel
      • The measures the director intends to take regarding these effects.

      The works council is also allowed to request information from the director which is reasonably necessary to perform its duties. This is referred to as active right to information. The main rule here is that the works council, and not the director, determines which information is necessary. The director cannot hide behind the argument that the information is confidential because for this reason the director can impose an obligation of secrecy on the works council.

      Does the director provide insufficient information and is he not prepared to provide more information? For this reason, the works council can give a negative advice. This ensures the remedy of appeal to the Enterprise Division if the director derogates in his decision from the advice given by the works council.

    • What facilities is the works council entitled to?

      To be able to function well as a works council, certain facilities are required. The members of the works council and of commissions are entitled to the following:

      • Things already present within the company, such as a meeting room, computer, filing cabinet, photocopier, telephone, etc.
      • A secretariat, if this is reasonably required for the performance of the works council’s tasks
      • Consultation of colleagues
      • Consultation of specialists
      • A minimum of 60 hours per year of paid leave, during working hours, for works council activities
      • A minimum of 5 days per year of paid leave, during working hours, for training. (Please note: A different number applies to members of the commission.)

      Please note: Costs for training/courses and consultation of specialists may be related to an annual budget.

      The director and the works council may expand these facilities in mutual consultation. To clarify for both the works council and the director what facilities the works council is entitled to, it is advisable to record agreements.

      In addition to these facilities and provisions, members of a works council are entitled to employment protection.

  • Miscellaneous

    • Does the works council have to bear the costs for involving a lawyer and conducting legal proceedings?

      Lawyers’ fees and the costs incurred for conducting legal proceedings by the Works Council versus the director may be charged to the director. However, the director has to be informed of the costs in advance. He or she can object to the level of costs. So make sure you have a good understanding about what to expect. In addition, make sure whether the Works Council is bound to an annual budget for engaging experts and/or conducting legal proceedings.

    • What is the role of a works council in a reorganisation?

      The works council has an important role in reorganisations. During reorganisations, the works council has the right to give advice regarding one or more parts of the reorganisation. For instance, the works council has to be asked for advice for drawing up a social plan in case of mass redundancy, even if the employer is conducting negotiations with the trade unions on this.

      In some cases the works council has to be asked for consent, for instance with regard to adopting, modifying or withdrawing, among others, a remuneration or job evaluation system. This regards changes in policy and not specific measures however.

      In order to perform your role as a works council properly, it is vital to get involved in a reorganisation as early as possible. Make sure to request information in good time and plan meetings with the director, if he or she doesn’t involve you in the reorganisation plans.

    • Can the works council be provided with additional powers?

      Yes, it can. In principle, the powers of the works council are described in the Works Councils Act (Wet op de Ondernemingsraden; WOR). However, it is possible to provide the works council with additional powers. These additional powers have to be laid down in a collective agreement or in regulations of a public body. The director and the works council can together agree upon additional powers in a written agreement. It is not allowed to restrict the statutory powers of the works council.

    • Does the works council require the approval of co-workers?

      No, the works council doesn’t need the approval of co-workers in order to give advice or consent. However, in some cases the works council is required to inform the colleagues. For instance, the works council has to inform the colleagues of the agenda for the meetings of the works council. In addition, the minutes of these meetings and the annual report of the works council have to be disclosed.

      Naturally, it is advisable to involve the colleagues as the works council represents their interests. The director has to enable the works council to consult their co-workers. Keep in mind, that the works council has a duty of confidentiality regarding affairs and business secrets. Besides, the director might have imposed an obligation for secrecy on the works council regarding certain affairs. Therefore, not all information can be forwarded to the colleagues.

Our lawyers for Works Councils

Meet our specialists in employee participation



Representing employee interests is important, but the survival of the organisation is also of importance. Since we assist directors too, we are well-familiar with their preferences. We deploy this knowledge to approach cases effectively and strategically.

Our lawyers provide legal advice in Dutch, English and German. So if you are employed at an international company, Russell Advocaten is the right partner for you.

We can help you with strategic advice, act in proceedings and as a mediator, for example, when it comes to reorganization or changes to the pension scheme and other employment conditions. We also provide tailor-made training courses for works councils, either at your premises or ours.

More on our services for works councils


Please contact us if you have any questions. Depending on your request, we will initially send you a quotation without obligations and our Terms & Conditions. You can present these to the director as the costs are in principle always for the account of the management.

For further information please consult Miscellaneous (FAQs).


Works Council news

Our lawyers regularly publish blogs, newsletters, articles and books for works councils. We also regularly organize seminars and workshops. Below you will find an overview of our publications and events.

  • Works Council
  • Employment law and dismissal

Works council: COVID-19 measures and mandatory vaccinations

19 October 2021

What rights does the works council have in relation to measures against the coronavirus within the company? And what role does the works council play with regard to the (im)possibility of mandatory vaccination against the coronavirus?

read on
  • Works Council
  • Corporate law

Management and Supervision of Legal Entities Act: What are the changes?

23 June 2021

On 10 November 2020, the Dutch Senate adopted the bill on the management and supervision of legal entities. This affects all associations and foundations, but, above all, nonprofit organizations. As an officer of a sports club, are you now more likely to be liable? Do you have to meet additional requirements when you are a member of the supervisory board of a school?

read on
  • Expats
  • Employment law and dismissal

17 June 2021: Employment Webinar “Tricky sickness issues”

17 June 2021

If your employee reports sick, this may raise many difficult questions. What are your reintegration obligations during the sick leave period? What are you allowed to record about your sick employee with regard to the privacy legislation? We answered these and other questions during a webinar. Watch the video!

read on
  • Works Council
  • Employment law and dismissal

Works council

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.

read on
  • Works Council
  • Employment law and dismissal

Works council in the company: what should you keep in mind?

11 February 2021

A works council plays an important role in the company. The works council can block important decisions of the entrepreneur, but can also enable reorganization of the company. What do you need to know about the works council?

read on
  • Works Council
  • Employment law and dismissal

Can you change an employment contract unilaterally?

15 December 2020

Can the employer change an employment contract unilaterally? Not without good reason. Is the coronavirus crisis a compelling reason? Does it make any difference if you have agreed to a unilateral changes clause?

read on
  • Works Council

The works council in times of crisis

24 April 2020

The right to be consulted and the right of consent are ‘special powers’ of the works council. The works council has these powers at all times, hence also in times of crisis. Regarding the corona crisis: What are the rights of the works council? When should the works council be involved?

read on
  • Expats
  • Contracts

Q&A coronavirus for company owners in the Netherlands

16 April 2020

Follow our coronavirus blog. Today, among other things: I no longer have work for my employees, what does the new scheme entail regarding compensation of their wages? What credit options does the government offer?

read on

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