The Works Council is the participation body which must mandatorily be set up if companies have 50 or more employees. A Works Council can also be made obligatory in the collective labour agreements.
The Works Council consults on behalf of the employees with the management about the course of affairs in the company. The duty of the Works Council is to supervise, among other things, the correct implementation of working conditions, the working hours and break periods and the terms and conditions of employment. Working conditions concern, for example, the number of days of holiday, overtime payment, pension schemes and notice periods, but also compliance with the working conditions legislation. In addition, the Works Council promotes direct employee consultation on work and the involvement of the employees in the company. The Works Council must promote the equal treatment of men and women, guard against discrimination and ensure that disabled people and minorities are brought into the company.
The rights can be subdivided into the right to be consulted on the general course of affairs, the right of initiative, the right to be consulted (on major financial and organisational decisions) and the right to endorse decisions.
•The right to be consulted on the general course of affairs. This means that the employer must conduct consultation regarding ‘matters concerning the company’.
•The right of initiative. This means that the Works Council can also put items on the agenda. The employer must inform the Works Council regularly on the basis of the right to be informed, among other things about the financial state of affairs.
•The right to be consulted (on major financial and organisational decisions). The Works Council has the right to be consulted (on major financial and organisational decisions) for some proposals of the employer. This concerns important proposed decisions in the organisational, financial or economic field.
•The right to endorse decisions. Proposed decisions on social policy and decisions on the basis of the Working Conditions Law (Working Conditions Act) can only be taken after the Works Council has agreed to this.
The working method of the Works Council is recorded in the obligatory Works Council standing orders. A member of the Works Council must be able to carry out his or her activities as much as possible during working hours. In addition, the Works Council must have various facilities available to it, such as at least 5 days of schooling per member, the use of meeting rooms, photocopying facilities and secretarial assistance. The elections are also regulated by the (provisional) Works Council standing orders and the members have employment protection.
Disputes with the director
Sometimes a Works Council cannot reach agreement with the director about a proposed decision. The Council can then go to the Enterprise Division of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal for decisions with regard to the right to be consulted (on major financial and organisational decisions). The appeal can be lodged on the ground that the entrepreneur, during the consideration of the interests involved, could not have reached the decision reasonably. Disputes which concern compliance with the law can be submitted by the Works Council to the Subdistrict court after the company committee has considered the case.
Asselbergs & Klinkhamer Advocaten provides legal assistance in the field of co-determination law. If required, the Employment Law department can advise you about the appointment of a Works Council and how to deal with the participation right.