Director and works council: how to achieve effective cooperation?

The works council is an important body within the organisation. They represent their members and have the necessary powers to do so, such as the right to consent and the right of advice. Effective cooperation makes it easier to implement important decisions within your organisation and ensures that those decisions are also supported within your organisation. So there is every reason to work on the cooperation with the works council, but how do you achieve that? The interests of the works council and the director are sometimes opposed, and the works council is therefore often seen as an opponent of the director. In this article we will tell you how to get closer to an effective cooperation.

Inform yourself in time about the rights of the Works Council

If you are aware of the rights and obligations of the works council, it will be easier for you to cooperate with the works council. After all, there need be no (or at least less) discussion about the content of those rights and duties. Do you have doubts about these rights and how far they extend? Please contact an employment lawyer to have this checked before communicating with the works council. Also give the works council the opportunity to turn to an employment law specialist.

Works council rights

Right to information: This means that the works council is entitled to information to enable it to perform its duties. The works council can request information itself (active information right) and the employer is obliged to provide information about the financial and economic position of the company and the social policy pursued (passive information right).

Consultation right: The managing director and works council are obliged to meet in a consultation meeting within two weeks after a reasoned request by one of them. Compliance can be requested from the subdistrict court.

Right of initiative: The works council has the right to make proposals. The works council cannot force the director to accept these proposals.

Right to advice: The Works Council has a right to advise on certain intended decisions. Section 25 of the Works Councils Act contains a list of decisions about which advice must be requested.

Right of consent: The Works Council has a right of consent to certain proposed decisions. Section 27 of the Works Councils Act contains a list of decisions for which consent must be requested.

Facilities: the works council has the right to call in experts, the right to training, the right to retention of salary while working for the works council and the right to conduct legal proceedings free of charge.

Regularly involve the works council in decision-making

Sparring informally

In addition to the rights under the Works Councils Act that have just been discussed, a director can also involve the Works Council in issues other than those on which it has the right to advise and consent. After all, the Works Council has a stimulating task with regard to subjects that affect the staff, such as terms of employment, working conditions, equal treatment and more. The more regular the consultation with the works council, the better. The works council should not feel like an afterthought; that creates the idea that the works council has no influence on decision-making. Regular and timely involvement of the Works Council creates trust. This can be done simply by planning a fixed moment to consult.

Works council involvement without right to advice or consent

Please note: is the works council involved without the right to advice or assent? As a director, it must be made clear that no advice or assent is requested, but that the director merely wants the works council to think along on a certain subject. Therefore, always assess first whether the subject requires advice or consent. Uncertainty? Lisa Kloot of LVH Advocaten will be glad to help you.

Works council agreement

The powers of the Works Council can also be extended through a Works Agreement. The involvement of the Works Council can thus increase and this can be positive for your organisation. Primary employment conditions, for instance, are not a subject on which the Works Council has the right to advice or consent. However, the managing director could agree with the works council that the terms of employment are submitted to the works council for approval. This could make it easier for the staff to accept.

Formation of a tacit business agreement

Please note: a company agreement can be created tacitly. If the directors repeatedly request consent or advice in writing, unambiguously and without reservation on a subject that falls outside the right to consent and advice, a works agreement can be created. Therefore, always make a reservation if you, as a director, wish to informally spar with the works council and state that no consent or advice is requested.

Need a lawyer in Rotterdam in the field of works councils and employee participation?

Co-determination is a promising tool for every manager if it is used correctly. Lisa Kloot of LVH Advocaten in Rotterdam is happy to help you set up works councils in the right way within your organisation. Lisa Kloot can help you with the establishment of the works council, the conclusion of a works agreement, as well as she can guide you in the process of advice and consent.

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