European Works Council

Companies with branches in several European countries may be confronted with the European Works Council (EWC).

Pursuant to the European directive and the Dutch European Works Councils Act (WEOR), employees of a multinational at European level are entitled to information and consultation. Participation rights apply to cross-border decisions of the company, such as the financial and economic situation of the group, relocation of production, restructuring and reorganisations. In this way, European employees can influence decision-making. On the other hand, the company receives useful input and advice from multiple sides about the intended course and decision-making of the company.

Starting point for the EWC

If a group has at least 1,000 employees in EU Member States and 150 employees in at least two EU countries, it qualifies as a Community Enterprise and the employees have the right to set up an EWC. The EWC then falls under the legislation of the country of the parent company. So if the parent company is in the Netherlands, then Dutch law applies and the Dutch court is competent in discussions between the EWC and the company, for example about the scope of the EWC’s information and consultation rights. The starting point for the creation of an EWC is usually a request from the local Works Council or a trade union to the multinational to take steps to set up an EWC.

Consultation about EWC agreement

The company then has to sit down with a delegation of employees from the branches from the various EU countries to negotiate an agreement between the EWC and the company. This is done in a so-called Special Negotiating Body (SNB). The aim from the employees and the company is to stipulate within an EWC agreement the scope of the information and consultation rights, how often consultative meetings should take place, which costs the company reimburses to the EWC members, and other practical agreements about the proper functioning of the EWC. The EU directive and the WEOR only provide a framework for establishing and working with the EWC. The EWC agreement must specify the cross-border participation rights of the EWC specific to that multinational. As such, an EWC always requires customisation.

Enlisting experts and costs

Both the SNB and the EWC can engage experts and (legal) advisors, the costs of which are borne by the company. This is similar to the deployment and cost reimbursement for the Dutch Works Council. Of course, it is also advisable for the company itself to seek (legal) advice, for example, for the drafting of the EWC agreement, and in the event of a conflict or procedure with the EWC.

Possible procedures

In practice, for example, discussions may arise between the company and the EWC if the company is late in providing or consulting the EWC, or about whether the information provided is sufficient, or whether a specific issue is of a cross-border nature. The EWC cannot go to the Enterprise Chamber if the company does not follow an advice on a proposed cross-border decision. However, the EWC can start a procedure at the Dutch court for (non-)compliance with the law and the EWC agreement.

We advise both multinationals and European Works Councils on the process of establishing an EWC, on drafting the EWC agreement and on any disputes.

More information

GMW lawyers will be happy to help you with all your employment-related legal issues. If you have any questions, please contact us directly using the enquiry form below or +31 (0)70 3615048. Our pension and employment lawyers will be happy to support and advise you.

More employment law related topics >

Lawyers

Amber Willemsen

Amber Willemsen

Read more about this lawyer
Godelijn Boonman

Godelijn Boonman

Read more about this lawyer
Prof. Hans van Meerten

Prof. Hans van Meerten

Read more about this lawyer
Roos van Zaltbommel

Roos van Zaltbommel

Read more about this lawyer

Looking for an employment law lawyer in The Hague?

GMW lawyers will be happy to help you with all your employment law issues. Our lawyers assist both employers and employees.

Do you have a question? Please feel free to contact us.

"*" indicates required fields

newsletter?

You might also like

Summary dismissal: the dismissal letter

19 February 2024

Summary dismissal: the dismissal letter

Shortly before the summer holidays, the Supreme Court delivered two rulings on summary dismissal. These refer to the urgent reason notice requirement in the dismissal letter and the claim for compensation from an employee who is summarily dismissed.

Read more

Read more about

12 February 2024

Webinar ‘Employment law for HR professionals: update 2024’

Need a quick update on the latest developments in employment law? Amber Willemsen and Seliz Demirci will give a webinar 'Employment law for HR professionals: update 2024' on 27 February 2024.

Read more

Read more about
Violation of a recommencement of employment condition: what does it cost?

28 January 2024

Violation of a recommencement of employment condition: what does it cost?

Most employers in the Netherlands are aware that the rollout of a restructuring involving compulsory redundancies is bound by the necessary rules.

Read more

Read more about
Prohibition on restrictions and self-employed persons

22 January 2024

Prohibition on restrictions and self-employed persons

The question regularly arises whether a supplier can prohibit the personnel it deploys - agency workers and seconded workers - from being employed by the hirer.

Read more

Read more about
Latest addition to the fundamental right to holidays

17 January 2024

Latest addition to the fundamental right to holidays

It is well-known: ‘Europe’ considers the right to four weeks’ paid holiday to be a fundamental right. For many years, the EU Court of Justice has emphasised this ‘essential principle of social law’ in case law.

Read more

Read more about
Small hearts, big consequences

22 November 2023

Small hearts, big consequences

Since the MeToo movement in 2017, the number of court rulings involving sexually transgressive behaviour has increased exponentially.

Read more

Read more about
Work wherever you want in 2023

20 November 2023

Work wherever you want in 2023?!

The corona pandemic has been behind us for a while now. A period when working from home or elsewhere than in the workplace was the norm.

Read more

Read more about
The new study costs clause

2 October 2023

The new study costs clause

Since 1 August 2022, employers may no longer charge employees for the cost of certain training and education through a study cost clause.

Read more

Read more about
Adaptation of whistleblowers’ scheme to new law

20 September 2023

Adaptation of whistleblowers’ scheme to new law

Adaptation of whistleblowers' scheme to new law; employers will be required to adapt internal whistleblower reporting procedures and whistleblowing employees will have increased protection from measures under employment law.

Read more

Read more about