When to Establish a Works Council in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands the Works Council [ondernemingraad, OR] is an internal body representing employees, promoting and protecting the interest of the employees. The Works Council has consultation rights in respect of certain significant proposed management decisions. Furthermore, they have approval rights in respects of intended company decisions regarding employment policies. The rules concerning staff representation are described in the Dutch Works Councils Act.

A business entity is obligated by the Works Councils Act to establish a Works Council, depending on the number of employees that work within the company based on an employment agreement.

Does your company employ 1 to 10 employees?

  • Your company may establish a staff meeting on a voluntary basis.

Does your company employ 11 to 49 employees?

  • On the request of the majority of employees a Works Council can set in place based on a voluntary decision. At the request of the majority of employees, there is an obligation by the WOR to set up an employee representative body [Personeelsvereniging]. An employee representative body is not the same as a Works Council. If an employee representative body is established, staff meetings need to take place and are entitled to prior consultation.

Does your company employ 50 employees or more?

  • Based upon the Dutch Works Councils Act, a Works Council is mandatory to be established.

In case your company owns more than 1 company, please ensure that each company with 50 employees and more has its own Works Council. A joint Works Council is possible when those companies each employs less than 50 people, but the total amount of employees is 50 or exceeds this number.

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