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In the Netherlands a works council (ondernemingsraad, OR) promotes and protects the interests of the employees in a company. The works council has rights, such as:
- the right to prior consultation in the event of major decisions and measures.
- the right of consent in the event of certain changes regarding terms of employment.
- the right of consent concerning the appointment of prevention officers.
The works council meets with the employer at least twice a year.
Works council, staff representation or staff meeting?
The rules concerning staff representation are laid down in the Dutch Works Councils Act (Wet op de ondernemingsraden, WOR).
You employ at least 50 individuals
You must see to it that a works council is established. If you have more than 1 company, make sure that every one of them with more than 50 employees has its own works council. A joint works council is possible when your companies each employ less than 50 people, but the sum total exceeds 50.
You employ 10 to 50 individuals
Your employees can voluntarily set up a works council or an employee representative body (personeelsvertegenwoordiging, PVT). This must be done if the majority of the employees request this. An employee representative body (PVT) has other powers than the works council. You must hold staff meetings (personeelsvergaderingen, PV) if your employees do not establish a works council or employee representative body. The staff meeting (PV) allows employees to exercise their right to prior consultation.
You employ less than 10 individuals
You can hold staff meetings on a voluntary basis.
Works council members
How many members are in your works council depends on the size of your company. You must ensure that the works council members have the time to do their work associated with the council. By law, members of the works council are entitled to training leave. They may add this training leave to the training leave that might already be in place for all of your employees. You pay the full training costs for members of the works council directly to the educational institute.
Exemption from works council obligation
If exceptional circumstances prevent the proper implementation of a works council, the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) may, at the request of the entrepreneur, grant written exemption from this obligation.
You operate a multinational company
Businesses that are part of a multinational organisation which operates in at least 2 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) must comply with the European Works Council Directive (EWC). Employees can request an EWC if the organisation has either:
- 1,000 or more employees in total
- at least 150 employees in each of 2 or more EU states, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland.