Have you ever thought about starting your own works council?
It is a great opportunity for employers and employees!
A works council can be established by election in any company employing a minimum of 5 employees who are entitled to vote.
The works council represents the employees and negotiates company agreements and consults with the employer in various situations. The basic idea behind the Works Constitution Act is that employees should participate in the operational decisions that directly affect them.
The Works Constitution Act applies to all businesses situated in the Federal Republic of Germany, irrespective of the employer’s or employee’s nationality.
If requested by the employees, a works council must be established. However, there is no legal obligation for either the employer or employees to establish a works council. The employer’s only obligation is to refrain from any action which could impede or interfere with the formation of a works council. Experience shows that almost every sizeable business eventually establishes a works council.
Once established, a works council’s rights and duties are far-reaching in matters such as hiring of staff, termination of employment and working conditions. The works council acts by way of co-determination or information and consultation rights. It can conclude works council agreements with the employer on certain matters, such as working conditions and remuneration schemes.
The individual works council members also enjoy special protection against dismissal. The dismissal of a works council member is not permitted. A member of the works council can only be dismissed without notice (fundamental breach of contract).
The employer must bear all the costs of the works council’s work. The employer must provide the necessary rooms, resources, information / communications technology and office staff for meetings, consultation hours and ongoing business.
In cases where the works council has a co-determination right, the employer and the works council have to reach an agreement. The employer and the works council usually conclude written works agreements on issues that are subject to co-determination. They lay down binding regulations for all the employees of a company. These works agreements apply directly and with mandatory force for all the employees of the company. Their advantage for the employer is that the contents of the works agreement no longer have to be implemented individually between the employer and every single employee in employment contracts.
If you are an employer or employee thinking about establishing a works council or have questions about your rights, please get in touch.