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?
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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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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