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Does your company employ 50 people or more? You need to set up a works council (ondernemingsraad, OR). If you have fewer than 50 employees, a works council or staff representation is optional.
The works council is made up of employees, who get involved with decisions about the running of the company. It promotes and protects the interests of the employees in the company. The works council has rights, such as:
- the right to prior consultation if decisions or measures that will majorly impact your employees are taken
- the right of consent in the event of changes regarding terms of employment (such as working times or employment conditions)
- the right of proposal: if the works council makes a proposal, you need to discuss it with them at least once before taking a decision
The works council meets with the employer at least twice a year. The size of the works council (in Dutch) depends on the number of people you employ.
Works council, staff representation or staff meeting?
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
You can voluntarily set up a works council. If you do not want to set up a works council, you must have an employee representative body (personeelsvertegenwoordiging, PVT) if the majority of your employees requests one. This body should have at least 3 members. If your employees do not request a PVT, you must hold staff meetings (personeelsvergaderingen, PV). This way, your employees can participate in the decision-making.
You employ fewer than 10 individuals
A PVT or staff meetings are optional.
Works council members
- Anyone on your staff who has been employed by you for at least 1 year has the right to stand in election for the works council. If someone is employed for 6 months they are eligible to vote. The works council can choose to change these terms in their regulations.
- It makes no difference which type of contract an employee has: permanent or fixed-term, full-time or part-time.
- Agency workers who have worked for you for 2 years may also stand in election for the works council.
Do you disagree with a change in the works council's terms? You can ask the subdistrict court to change these regulations.
You must ensure that the works council members have the time to do their work associated with the council. You and the works council members decide in consultation how many hours this entails. It must be at least 60 hours per year. By law, members of the works council are entitled to training leave (in Dutch). 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, you can apply for an exemption with the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER).
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.