In the Netherlands the Works Council [ondernemingraad, 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 rules concerning staff representation are described in the Dutch Works Councils Act.
History Works Councils Act
The Works Councils Act, [Wet op de ondernemingsraden, WOR)] 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 Works Councils 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 Dutch Works Councils Act have taken place, but the aim of the Act remained unchanged: employee participation in the enterprise by means of Works Councils.
Works Councils Act
The Works Councils Act consists of 8 chapters with their respective articles per each of these chapters.
I General provisions
II The establishment of a Works Council
III Composition of the Works Council, and procedures
IV Consultation with the Works Council
V Central Works Councils and Group Works Councils [COR and GOR]
VI Rules of arbitration
VII Joint Sectoral Committees
VIII Transitional and final provisions
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.
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 12 years, we support (inter)national companies and Works Councils by providing HR Solutions and Learning Courses. We enrich the lives of people by embedding a culture of leading by learning delivering practical and value based training. Furthermore, we combine the global HR approach with local Dutch market knowledge by offering practical solutions for growing businesses.
All 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 Works Councils Act.
Important note translation Works Councils Act
The publication of the Dutch Works Councils Act in English for download below is made by the advisory body SER (Social and Economic Council). The SER advises the Dutch government and parliament on social economic policies.
Please note, translation reflects the text of the Works Councils Act as of June 2019. The translation has no legal force and is provided for practical purposes only. In the event of any dispute, reference should always be made to the Dutch language.
- Resources Works Councils
- Human in Progress Academy: Works Council Courses
- Works Councils Act – English translation 2019
- Management by Objective (MBO) – Evaluate and Measure Performance. - December 5 2022
- HR Guide Performance Management. - December 5 2022
- Guidelines Training Costs Works Council Netherlands 2023. - December 5 2022