How Many Works Council Members Are in the Council?

In the Netherlands the Works Council [ondernemingsraad, OR] is an internal body representing employees, promoting and protecting the interest of the employees.

Works Council members have 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, [WOR].

The purpose of the Works Council is to benefit both the employer and employees, through the representation in the workplace and a having a forum in which constructive feedback can allow the business to progress. The Dutch Works Council’s rights and interests are solely intended to protect employees in the working environment.

What is the Works Council threshold in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, companies with staff of at least 50 individuals per business entity are legally required to establish a Works Council. Companies operating in the Netherlands with multiple business entities, each with 50 or more employees, will have to establish a Works Councils per each entity.

For businesses that do not meet the Works Council threshold in the Netherlands, alternative forms of staff representation, such as staff meetings or “personeelsvergadering” in Dutch, are worth exploring. When employing fewer than 50 individuals, staff representation is not legally mandated, although it is highly recommended.

The Number of Works Council Members

The composition of the Works Council is described in article 6 of the Works Councils Act. The members shall be directly elected by the persons working in the enterprise. There is a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25 members sitting in the Works Council. The number of members is depending on the number of employees in the company. In any enterprise:

  • with 50 to 100 employees, there shall be 5 members;
  • with 100 to 200 employees, there shall be 7 members;
  • with 200 to 400 employees, there shall be 9 members;
  • with 400 to 600 employees, there shall be 11 members;
  • with 600 to 1000 employees, there shall be 13 members;
  • with 1000 to 2000 employees, there shall be 15 members;
  • and so forth, with an additional 2 members for every further 1,000 employees, up to a maximum of 25 members.

In the Rules of Procedure [OR-reglement], the Works Council may, with the permission of the entrepreneur, decide upon a different number of members.

The Works Council may remain in place for 2, 3 or 4 years, as this is described in their Rules of Procedure [OR-reglement]. After the term, new Works Council elections will be held.

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