The works council is always elected for four years. Representatives of the works council may also be appointed to the board of directors. In addition, works councils make it increasingly difficult to dismiss German employees. It depends on the size of the company. If the company has fewer than 20 employees, one board member is sufficient. If there are more than 21 employees, the works council must be composed of at least three people. If you have more than 51 employees, the minimum number of members is 5. And so on. A works contract is a special type of contract concluded between the employer and the works council and contains general provisions on the working conditions of individual workers. Company agreements have the same direct and binding effect on individual employment relationships as statutory law. From 1,501 to 5,000 employees, the number of employees on the works council will increase by two for every 500 employees or part of them; from 5,001 to 7,000 per pair for another 1,000 each. Companies with 7,001 to 9,000 have 35 works council members and more than 9,000 companies have two additional works council members for every 3,000 employees. The changes in 2001 increased the size of the works council at almost all levels.
In practice, works councils are mainly set up in medium-sized and large enterprises, but much less frequently in small enterprises: in Germany, works councils are organised in 97.5% of enterprises with more than 1,000 employees, but only in 4.2% of enterprises with 5 to 20 employees. In the social field, the works council has strong co-management rights, in particular as regards: collective agreements are agreements between employers or employers` associations and trade unions. Collective agreements regulate the working conditions (i.e. hours of work, wages, etc.) of employees in a company or sector such as the metallurgical and electrical industry or the chemical industry. In principle, working conditions regulated by a collective agreement are more advantageous for employees than those of companies or sectors without a collective agreement. A works council is a works organisation which represents workers and acts in addition to trade unions at local/company level, but is independent of them at least in some countries. There are works councils with different names in various related forms in a number of European countries, including the United Kingdom (joint advisory committee or works council); Germany and Austria (works council);   Luxembourg (Joint Committee, Staff Delegation); the Netherlands (Dienstcommissie, Ondernemingsraad) and Flanders in Belgium (ondernemingsraad); Italy (comitato aziendale); France (Social and Economic Committee); Wallonia in Belgium (works council), Spain (empresa committee) and Denmark (Samarbejdsudvalg or SU). The formation of a works council is not compulsory for employees.
The initiative to create them must come from the workers or the trade unions. If a company has more than one branch, it is usually possible to form a works council for each branch, provided that it has five or more employees. Works councils and trade unions are intended to protect the rights and interests of workers. Works councils are active in the larger individual companies and trade unions represent the interests of workers in certain sectors. Here you will find what the works council and the union do and how you can become a member. In Germany, the law does not provide for a separate legal structure for trade union representatives of companies. However, some unions are making arrangements for them. Their rights and obligations are usually determined by trade unions, although in some sectors their position is also governed by collective agreements.
Ideally, they support the works council. In practice, there is often no separate specific trade union structure and the members of the works council will assume their duties. The procedure for electing the members of the works council is also very official. Members are elected by their society and have a four-year term. Companies can set up their German works councils without being members of an official trade union. The works council represents the interests of the workers vis-à-vis the employer. For example, the works council is responsible for ensuring that works councils in Germany have a long history, dating back to the early 1920s in the Weimar Republic after the First World War, which was established by the Law on The Incorporation of Companies or the Law on The Incorporation of Companies.  Initially, unions were very skeptical of works councils and saw them as a way for management to negotiate with workers without engaging in collective bargaining.  But eventually, they developed clearly defined responsibilities with works councils that were not allowed to organize strikes or impose a wage increase.  In recent years, with a decline in the number of union members, works councils have been seen as a way for unions to recruit members, especially by works councils to encourage people to join.
 A works council is formally mandatory, but there is no application until employees have explicitly requested the choice; and their presence varies by industry. In 2019, depending on the sector, between 16% and 86% of employees worked for an employer with a works council.  According to the law, works councils should generally not be involved in collective bargaining on issues such as wages or working hours handled by trade unions. Recently, however, works councils have played a more important role in these matters, as some agreements contain “opening clauses” that allow the works council and local management to agree on deviations from the agreement between the union and the employers` association at sectoral level (see section on collective bargaining). In the public sector, agreements between the Agency and the Staff Council are referred to as `service contracts`. One of the most frequently studied (and probably the most successful) implementations of this institution is in Germany. The model is essentially as follows: general collective agreements are concluded at national level by national trade unions (e.B IG Metall) and national employers` associations (e.B. Gesamtmetall) and local factories and companies then meet with works councils to adapt these national agreements to local conditions. The members of the works council are elected by the company`s staff for a four-year term.
They do not need to be unionized; Works councils may also be set up in undertakings where neither the employer nor the workers are organised. In the event of individual personnel matters, appointments, classifications and reclassifications, transfers and dismissals, the employer must inform the works council before acting, and the works council may refuse his consent (appointments, classifications and reclassifications and transfers) or oppose the proposed measure (dismissal). However, the works council may only do so in certain circumstances. B, for example, if the proposal conflicts with existing agreements or guidelines, would lead to unfair treatment of the person concerned or (in the event of dismissal) if the employer has not taken sufficient account of social issues. If the employer does not accept the position of the works council, he may refer the matter to the Labour Court, which may annul the works council`s objection. Company agreements can be used to settle many issues in the company. This applies in particular to matters on which the works council has a say. A company agreement may, for example, regulate working time patterns, occupational health and safety, or the use of the Internet, email, and social media in the company. Entering a new market always comes with obstacles, and if your company plans to set up in Europe, you may encounter the nuances of the German works council. .