Works Council Netherlands Rights & Responsibilities.

Understanding Works Council Netherlands rights and responsibilities of Works Council members is crucial for fostering a collaborative and productive work environment. The Dutch Works Council [Ondernemingsraad, OR] is an internal body representing, promoting, and protecting the interest of the employees. The rules concerning the Works Council’s rights and responsibilities are described in the Works Councils Act Netherlands [WOR].

What Is the Purpose of the Works Council Netherlands?

The purpose of a Dutch 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 Works Council advocates for:

  • Regular consultations with the entrepreneur.
  • Adherence to HR policies, employment law and regulations regarding working conditions, hours, and rest periods.
  • Ensuring equal treatment and compensation for all employees.

What is the difference between the Works Council Netherlands vs Union?

Trade unions are (independent) organisations, exclusively representing members within a certain industry or business sector. The Dutch Works Council represent all employees in the company. The Trade Unions are negotiating Collective Labour Agreements of employment, and the Works Council will on average not have a say in this.

The unions have information and consultation rights in respect of collective dismissal. Furthermore, they have right in respect to mergers and considered with are considered to fall within the scope of the Dutch jurisdiction. The Dutch Works Council has information, initiative, consultation, and approval rights.

What Are the Works Council’s Rights under Dutch Law?

The primary purpose of the Works Council Netherlands rights and interests is to safeguard employees in the workplace and include:

1. Right to be Consulted / Right of Advice article 25 and article 30 of the Works Councils Act

Discussion of important proposed decisions regarding the organisation, including the appointment / dismissal of the Director.

2. Right of Consent / Right of Approval article 27 of the Works Councils Act

Discussion of proposed decisions concerning substantial changes in the terms of the employment conditions.

3. Right for Initiative article 23 of the Works Councils Act

Discussion of topics during or outside the regular consultation meetings with the entrepreneur.

4. Right to be Informed article 31 of the Works Councils Act

General active and passive right to be provided with information reasonably necessary for the proper fulfilment of their tasks and duties.

Non-Compliance

Business changes can only be implemented after the Works Council process has been followed. In case of non-compliance, the Works Council may (after the interference of the Branch Committee), request the Cantonal Court to declare the enterprise to comply with its obligations. The Cantonal Court may further oblige the employer or the Works Council to perform certain activities or to refrain from performing certain activities.

In case a decision is made contrary to the opinion given by the Works Council, the Works Council can lodge an appeal against the decision with the Enterprise Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam, which the court can (depending on the circumstances) oblige the enterprise to withdraw its decision and reverse actions taken as a result thereof; and/or forbid the entrepreneur to perform activities which are an implementation of the decision taken.

Composition of the Works Council Netherlands

The composition of the Dutch Works Council is described in article 6 of the Works Councils Act Netherlands. 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:

  • with 50 to 100 employees, there shall be 5 Works Council members.
  • with 100 to 200 employees, there shall be 7 Works Council members.
  • with 200 to 400 employees, there shall be 9 Works Council members.
  • with 400 to 600 employees, there shall be 11 Works Council members.
  • with 600 to 1000 employees, there shall be 13 Works Council members.
  • with 1000 to 2000 employees, there shall be 15 Works Council members.
  • and so forth, with an additional 2 members for every further 1,000 employees, up to a maximum of 25 Works Council 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 Dutch Works Council is made up of the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Works Council members. The Works Council may set up any committees which the Works Council may reasonably be deemed to require in order to perform its duties and shall inform the entrepreneur accordingly. Examples of these committees are Health & Safety (Arbo) Committee, People & Performance Committee, Finance & Pension Committee and Diversity, Inclusion & Communication.

Works Council Confidentiality

Works Council Netherlands rights regarding confidentiality refers to the obligation of Works Council members and its committees by the Dutch Works Councils Act to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information, including business and industrial information, discussed during Works Council meetings, and in consultation meetings with the entrepreneur.

This obligation extends to matters designated as confidential by the entrepreneur, the Works Council, or relevant committees. The obligation of confidentiality shall not end upon termination of membership of the Works Council or the relevant Works Council committee, and not when the employee will leave the company.

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