Questions and answers about the Works Councils Act (WOR):
1. What is the purpose of the Works Councils Act?
The Works Councils Act aims to regulate employee participation within companies and promote cooperation between employers and employees.
2. What is a works council (OR)?
A works council is a representative body of employees within a company. The OR represents the interests of employees and the organization and has the right to advice and consent on certain subjects.
3. What rights does a works council have?
The OR has various rights, such as the right to information, the right to consult with the employer, the right to give advice, and the right to consent to certain decisions of the employer.
4. What is the difference between the right to advice and the right to consent?
With the right to advice, the employer must consult the OR and respond with a motivated opinion, but the employer is not obliged to follow the advice. With the right to consent, the employer needs the consent of the OR before making a decision.
5. Which subjects fall under the right to consent of the works council?
Subjects such as working conditions, working hours regulations, remuneration systems, and social provisions fall under the right to consent of the OR.
6. How often should the works council consult with the employer?
The OR must have at least two consultations per year with the employer. In practice, this can be more frequent depending on the needs and agreements within the company.
7. How is a works council formed?
A works council is formed through elections. All employees (except for the executive) within the company have the right to vote, and candidates can stand for election.
8. What is the difference between a works council and a staff representation (PVT)?
A staff representation (PVT) is a representative body of employees within a smaller company. A PVT has fewer rights and powers than an OR and is not mandatory in every company.
9. Can a works council block a decision made by the employer?
A works council cannot directly block a decision. For certain decisions, the OR has the right to consent, which means the employer needs the consent of the OR before the decision can be made.
10. What happens if the employer does not follow the advice of the works council?
The employer is not obligated to adopt the advice of the OR but must respond seriously and motivated to the advice. If the employer disregards the advice, the OR can bring the matter before the Enterprise Division of the Court of Appeals to resolve the dispute.
11. Can a member of the works council be dismissed?
A member of the OR cannot be dismissed because of their membership in the OR. There is job protection for OR members during their membership and for a certain period thereafter.
12. What is the confidentiality obligation of the works council?
The OR has a confidentiality obligation regarding confidential information received during their work. This obligation ensures the privacy and interests of individual employees and the organization are protected.
13. What sanctions can the court impose for violations of the Works Councils Act?
The court can impose various sanctions, such as annulling the employer’s decisions or imposing a penalty payment.
14. Is the employer required to provide financial resources to the works council?
Yes, the employer must enable the OR to carry out its tasks effectively. This includes providing financial resources for training and engaging experts.
15. Can a works council make decisions on its own?
The OR does not have independent decision-making authority. It has the right to give advice and consent and can advise the employer or give consent on specific decisions.
16. Can employees without a works council still influence decision-making?
Yes, employees without a works council can influence decision-making through other channels, such as labor unions, staff meetings, and individual discussions with the employer.
17. Is an employer obligated to establish a works council?
An employer is required to establish a works council when there are usually at least 50 employees (including regular, flexible, and temporary employees) in the company.
18. Does the Works Councils Act apply to all types of companies?
The Works Councils Act applies to companies where there are usually at least 50 employees. For smaller companies, a staff representation (PVT) may apply.
19. Can a works council also provide advice on future decisions?
Yes, the OR can also provide advice on planned decisions by the employer. This gives the OR the opportunity to influence decisions before they are finalized.
20. How long is the term of office for a works council?
The term of office for a works council is typically three or four years. After this period, new elections must be held to form a new OR. An OR can resign before the end of the term.
21. Can a part-time employee be a member of the works council?
Yes, part-time employees can also be members of the works council. Membership in the OR is not dependent on the number of hours a person works.
22. Is the employer required to provide meeting facilities to the works council?
Yes, the employer must provide the necessary facilities, such as meeting rooms and necessary equipment, so that the OR can fulfill its tasks effectively.
23. Does the employer have to pay for the time spent by the works council on their activities?
Yes, the employer must consider the time spent by OR members on their activities as working time and pay them accordingly.
24. Can a works council also influence the social policy of a company?
Yes, the OR has the right to consent regarding the social policy of the company. This includes areas such as personnel policy, working conditions, and training policy.
25. Does the employer have to submit a planned decision to the works council before it is made?
Yes, the employer is obliged to submit planned decisions that fall under the right to advice (Articles 25 and 30 WOR) and the right to consent (Article 27 WOR) to the OR in advance.
26. Can a works council decide on the topics it discusses with the employer?
The OR can propose topics for discussion with the employer, but the employer also has the right to put topics on the agenda. Both parties must consult and reach agreement on the agenda of the meetings.
27. What are the consequences if the works council is not involved in a decision on time?
If the works council is not involved in a decision where the right to advice or consent applies, the OR can bring the matter before the Enterprise Division of the Court of Appeals or the Subdistrict Court to enforce compliance with the Works Councils Act and impose possible sanctions.
28. Can a works council seek external advice on complex issues?
Yes, the works council can seek external advice from experts if necessary to provide sound advice or give consent. The costs for this are borne by the employer. There is an obligation to inform the bestuurder in advance which amounts the expert is going to spend.
29. How can an employee file complaints about the functioning of the works council?
An employee can file complaints about the functioning of the works council with the Works Councils Disputes Committee (bedrijfscommissie) or the Subdistrict Court (kantonrechter).
30. Can a works council establish new rules for employee participation within the company?
A works council cannot establish its own rules for employee participation. The rules regarding employee participation are laid down in the Works Councils Act and potentially supplemented by collective labor agreements (CAOs) or company regulations. The OR can, however, influence the development and compliance with these rules.
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