Works Councils Act Netherlands (WOR) in Dutch & English.

The rules concerning staff representation are described in the Dutch Works Councils Act [Wet op de ondernemingsraden, WOR)].

In the Netherlands the Works Council [ondernemingsraad, OR] is an internal body representing, 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 Works Councils Act was first adopted in 1950 and was suffused with the spirit of cooperation, one of the characteristics of reconstruction after the World War II. Originally, management was included as a member of the Works Council. Workers’ representatives possessed only rights to information and enter discussions. There was no right to be included in the decision making, and participation with regard to social issues was also not introduced until later.

The Act, part of Dutch civil law, was completely revised January 28, 1971, and officially entered into force April 1, 1971, filed under the subject Freedom of association, collective bargaining and industrial relations. The Works Council gained autonomy as management could not be part of the council anymore.

The role of the Works Council also changed, not only focusing on improving the functioning of the company, but also being responsible representing employee interests, and advising on all major strategic decisions such as mergers and takeovers, relocation, closure or reorganisation and major investments.

During recent years, more amendments of this Act have taken place, but the aim remained unchanged: employee participation in the enterprise by means of Works Councils.


The Works Councils Act in the Netherlands consists of 8 chapters with their respective articles per each of these chapters. Overall, it aims to promote employee participation in decision-making processes within companies, ensuring that their interests are represented and considered in matters affecting the workplace.

I General provisions (Article 1 Works Councils Act)

This chapter provides the foundational principles and definitions related to Dutch Works Council and the scope of the law.

II The establishment of a Works Council (Article 2 – 5 Works Councils Act)

It outlines the procedures for establishing a Dutch Works Council within a company, including the election of members and their terms of office.

III Composition of the Works Council, and procedures (Article 6 – 22 Works Councils Act)

This chapter provides the principles, composition, number of members and the procedures of the Dutch Works Council.

IV Consultation with the Works Council (Article 23 – 32 Works Councils Act)

This chapter delineates the rights and responsbilities of the Dutch Works Council and the entrepreneur. It covers topics such as consultation, meetings, information provision, and decision-making processes.

V Central Works Councils and Group Works Councils [COR and GOR] (Article 33 – 35 Works Councils Act)

It outlines the definitions and responsibilities of a Central Works Council and a Dutch Group Works Council.

VI Rules of arbitration (Article 36 Works Councils Act)

This chapter may detail procedures for appealing decisions or actions related to works council matters and seeking legal remedies.

VII Joint Sectoral Committees (Article 37 – 46 Works Councils Act)

It provides more information about the role of committees.

VIII  Transitional and final provisions (Article 47 – 54 Works Councils Act)

This chapter contains miscellaneous provisions, such as transitional arrangements and the effective date of the law.

Dutch Works Councils Act – English translation

The Netherlands is a truly a world-class business destination and European Union’s best country for business, many international businesses. Many Fortune 500 companies have chosen the Netherlands as their head office in Europe. The Dutch labour market has highly skilled, multilingual, business-savvy workers ready to meet the demands of international business needs.

In short employment law in the Netherlands is complex and today’s People & Culture function rapidly evolve and has the potential to enable business transformation. It is therefore more important than ever to have an experienced advisor on your side.

For over 15 years, Human in Progress supports (inter)national companies and Works Councils by providing HR Services and courses. We enrich the lives of people by embedding a culture of leading by learning delivering practical and value based training.

In addition, all levels efforts are aimed at achieving agreement on social and economic policy through consultation. This takes place in companies; the Works Council consults with the entrepreneur (management). At industry level, trade unions negotiate with employers’ organisations regarding Collective Labour Agreements (CLAs), and at the national level, the SER is present, part of the consultative economy.

In line with more international businesses residing in the Netherlands, a growing need occurred to have an English translation of the Act.

The Act in English is made by the advisory body SER (Social and Economic Council). The SER, advises the Dutch government and parliament on social economic policies.


This publication contains the English translation and reflects the content of June 2019 and has no legal force. It is provided for practical purposes only.

English Translation

Dutch Language 

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